Articles

New EU rules to reduce marine pollution

New EU rules to reduce marine pollution

New EU rules to reduce marine pollution

05.06.2018 EU law

Plastic pollution has become a key environmental concern. And it is not surprising why: according to a recent study, of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastics that have been produced so far, 6.3 billion metric tons has become plastic waste. Of this plastic waste, 79% is accumulating either in landfill sites or in the oceans.

Therefore, on 28 May 2018 the EU Commission issued a new draft Directive aimed at tackling marine litter by addressing single use plastic items and abandoned fishing gear.

Marine litter – more plastic, fewer fish

Plastic pollution is becoming a main environmental concern. And it is not surprising why: according to a recent study, of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastics that have been produced so far, 6.3 billion metric tons has become plastic waste. Of this plastic waste, 79% is accumulating either in landfill sites or in the oceans. Action is therefore urgently needed to tackle this.

After the launch of a few initiatives in view of banning microplastics and microbeads in products (you can read all about it in our previous post – in Dutch – here), the EU has now decided to propose a new Directive, aimed at reducing marine pollution more broadly. This is one step further in the fight to tackle marine plastics, including plastic microbeads.

More specifically, the European Commission issued the draft Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on 28 May 2018 on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment. This proposal addresses the primary sources of marine pollution in Europe:

  • certain single use plastic items; and
  • abandoned, lost and disposed of fishing gear.

Together, these plastic items constitute 70% of all marine litter.

Key elements of the draft Directive

For the purpose of this draft Directive, the Commission has established a list with the top ten “single use plastic products” found on European beaches by count. These ten items represent 86% of all the single use plastic items (and 43% of all the marine litter found on European beaches by count):

  1. food containers;
  2. cups for beverages;
  3. cotton bud sticks;
  4. cutlery, plates, stirrers, straws;
  5. sticks for balloons and balloons;
  6. packets and wrappers;
  7. beverage containers, their caps and lids, and beverage bottles;
  8. tobacco product filters;
  9. sanitary items (wet wipes and sanitary towels); and
  10. lightweight plastic carrier bags.

Fishing gear on the other hand represents 27% of the marine litter found on the European beaches by count.

For each of these ten single use plastics, as well as for the fishing gear, the Commission proposes a set of seven measures that will apply according to the characteristics of each item:   

  1. consumption reduction targets: Member States will have to reduce the use of some single use plastics by setting national reduction targets, making alternative products available, etc.;
  2. market restriction: some single use plastics will be banned altogether;
  3. product design requirements;
  4. marking requirements: certain products will require labelling as to how they should be disposed of;
  5. extended producer responsibility: producers will be obliged to share in the cost of waste management and clean up, and will be given incentives in order to develop alternatives to single use plastics;
  6. separate collection objective: through, for example, deposit refund schemes;
  7. awareness raising measures: Member States will have to raise consumer’s awareness about single use plastics littering.

The envisaged measures for the single use plastics are as follows:

  1. Consumption reduction 2. Market restriction 3. Product design requirement 4. Marking requirements 5. Extended producer responsibility 6. Separate collection objective 7. Awareness raising measures
Food containers X       X   X
Cups for beverages X       X   X
Cotton bud sticks   X          
Cutlery, plates, stirrers, straws   X          
Sticks for balloons   X          
Balloons       X X   X
Packets & wrappers         X   X
Beverage containers, their caps & lids     X   X   X
Beverage bottles     X   X X X
Tobacco product filters         X   X
Sanitary items:
- Wet wipes
      X X   X
- Sanitary towels       X     X
Lightweight plastic carrier bags         X   X
Fishing gear         X   X

Extended producer responsibility: the polluter-pays principle

Extended producer responsibility schemes are based on the polluter-pays principle laid down in Article 191(2) TFEU.

Such schemes are already well-established in the field of waste and water, and in particular in the Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC, the Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste 1994/62/EEC, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive 2008/56/EC and the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive 91/271/EEC.

However, while the general minimum requirements for extended producer responsibility in the Waste Framework Directive will apply to the proposed Directive, the Directive itself will also lay down specific and additional requirements for the financial responsibility of producers, and specifically for awareness raising campaigns and the clean-up of litter.

The aim of this Directive is to shift the cost for the clean-up and the recycling of these littered plastic items from the public sector (and thus, tax payers) and other private sector bodies such as tourism and fisheries authorities, to the producers of these single use plastic items themselves.

More fish, less plastic?

Some issues remain nevertheless. For example, instead of setting specific EU reduction targets for food containers and beverage cups, the draft Directive delegates this task to the Member States. This may result in inadequate or differentiated reduction targets from (unwilling) Member States.

That being said, with this draft Directive, the Commission is taking a big leap forward in tackling the growing plastic threat. Until recently, the EU addressed plastic pollution only indirectly. By using this tailor-made Directive, it becomes more likely that the EU might reverse the negative trend and provide legislation to clean up our oceans.
 

Team

Related news

09.08.2019 NL law
Implementatiewet gewijzigde Kaderrichtlijn afvalstoffen in consultatie tot 3 september 2019 – op naar een circulaire economie?

Short Reads - Op 24 juli 2019 is een concept AMvB in consultatie gegaan, die strekt tot wijziging van enkele besluiten ten behoeve van de implementatie van de gewijzigde Kaderrichtlijn afvalstoffen (Richtlijn 2008/98/EG, "Kra", zoals gewijzigd door Richtlijn 2018/851/EU). Deze concept AMvB betreft onder andere de gescheiden inzameling van afvalstoffen en de registratie- en meldplichten met betrekking tot stoffen, mengsels, producten en afvalstoffen In dit blogbericht bespreken wij de wijzigingen die de concept AMvB beoogt, de praktische gevolgen ervan en het doel van de concept AMvB.

Read more

08.08.2019 NL law
De fipronil-crisis: volgens de rechtbank handelde de NVWA als toezichthouder niet onrechtmatig

Short Reads - Op 10 juli 2019 heeft de Rechtbank Den Haag geoordeeld dat de Nederlandse Voedsel- en Warenautoriteit ("NVWA") niet onrechtmatig heeft gehandeld tegenover pluimveehouders naar aanleiding van de fipronil-crisis (ECLI:NL:RBDHA:2019:6810). Er is, aldus de rechtbank, geen sprake van falend toezicht of van een schending van een waarschuwingsplicht.

Read more

14.08.2019 BE law
Verklaring van openbaar nut is geen "project" in de zin van de MER-regelgeving

Articles - In een recent arrest bevestigt de Raad van State dat "verklaringen van openbaar nut", bedoeld in artikel 10 van de wet van 12 april 1965 betreffende het vervoer van gasachtige produkten en andere door middel van leidingen niet onder het begrip "project" uit de project-MER-regelgeving valt. Of hetzelfde geldt voor elk type gelijkaardige administratieve toelating, is daarmee evenwel nog niet gezegd. Niettemin geeft de Raad met zijn arrest een belangrijk signaal dat niet elke mogelijke toelating onder de project-MER-regelgeving valt.

Read more

07.08.2019 NL law
Bezwaar gemeente niet-ontvankelijk als bezwaarschrift niet is ingediend door de burgemeester

Short Reads - De Afdeling bestuursrechtspraak van de Raad van State oordeelde in een meervoudige-kameruitspraak van 12 juni 2019 (ECLI:NL:RVS:2019:1894) dat het bezwaar van een gemeente niet ontvankelijk is als het bezwaarschrift niet namens de gemeente is ingediend door de burgemeester, maar door het college van burgemeester en wethouders (b&w).

Read more

Our website uses functional cookies for the functioning of the website and analytic cookies that enable us to generate aggregated visitor data. We also use other cookies, such as third party tracking cookies - please indicate whether you agree to the use of these other cookies:

Privacy – en cookieverklaring