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European Parliament adopts new rules on single-use plastics

28 March 2019

European Union efforts to tackle marine litter were boosted with the adoption of new rules on single-use plastics by the European Parliament.

On 27 March 2019, legislators in Strasbourg voted on the Single-Use Plastics Directive, agreeing on measures to ban selected single-use products made of plastic, measures to reduce consumption of plastic food containers and beverage cups, and on extended producer responsibility schemes – schemes which will cover the cost of cleaning up litter (from products such as tobacco filters and fishing gear).

The new rules are intended to address marine litter and plastic pollution, but also go some way to cementing the EU’s position as a world leader in sustainable plastic policy.

Jyrki Katainen, European Commission vice-president for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness said the new rules would not only prevent plastic pollution but provide opportunities for industry:

“The European Parliament has played an essential role (…) in giving a chance to the industry to innovate, thus driving forward our circular economy.”

This view was echoed by the legislation’s parliamentary rapporteur, Frédérique Ries of the ALDE group:

“The European Union is creating niches for innovation. We are creating opportunities for jobs. This (legislation) is an opportunity for innovation, creation, research and development – and for niches that will exist in all these alternatives (to single-use plastics).”

The directive voted on by the European Parliament also contains other measures related to the collection of plastic bottles.

The EU now has a 90% separate collection target for plastic bottles by 2029 (77% by 2025), and the introduction of design requirements to connect caps to bottles. Parliament also approved a target to incorporate 25% of recycled plastic in PET bottles from 2025 (and 30% from 2030).

Following this approval by the European Parliament, the Council of Ministers will finalise the formal adoption. Typically, this then means that the endorsement is followed by publication of the texts in the Official Journal of the European Union, and European members states will then have two years to transpose the legislation into their national laws.

The rules on single-use plastics are part of the EU Plastics Strategy, which aims to have all plastic packaging placed on the EU market as reusable or recyclable by 2030.


Next PlastiCircle general assembly set for Valencia

28 March 2019

PlastiCircle will mark the start of its first pilot initiative in Valencia with a general assembly meeting on 27-29 May 2019

The PlastiCircle consortium will meet again in late May 2019, shortly after the start of the project’s first pilot in Valencia’s San Marcelino district.

As with other general assembly meetings, the project team - in addition to the innovation committee and advisory board – will meet over two days of intense discussions and preparations for the next steps of the project.

But this time, the general assembly will also see firsthand what PlastiCircle partners have started in San Marcelino – here project innovations such as smart containers, citizen sorting incentives and optimised waste transport are being deployed from early May.

The visit to the San Marcelino pilot district will take place on 27 May, with official consortium meetings taking place on 28 and 29 May.

PlastiCircle will release regular updates on the website and via Twitter @circ_economy

EU projects on the circular economy of plastics – informing policy through research and innovation

15 March 2019

The PlastiCircle project has been featured in a new publication by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, cementing the project’s position as a valuable learning tool for policy makers in the circular economy sphere.

‘A circular economy for plastics: Insights from research and innovation to inform policy and funding decisions’ was published on 4 March by the European Commission following a busy 18 months for plastics in the legislative calendar.

Aside from the more headline-grabbing issues of the past year - issues such as the EU directive on Single-use Plastics – other major themes are emerging from Brussels that show how serious European policy makers have become about the role of plastics in a circular economy; themes such as innovation spanning the entire plastics value chain.

This publication, an extensive document edited by Michiel De Smet and Mats Linder, gives a comprehensive overview of the novel sources, design and business models for plastics in a circular economy, in addition to circular after-use pathways for plastics – pathway such as collection and sorting, mechanical recycling, chemical recycling and organic recycling and biodegradation.

The document identifies a number of challenges and knowledge gaps, notably finding that “so far, innovations have often focused on improving a single issue, rather than taking the entire plastics system into account.”

“While thousands of EU-funded projects have dealt with plastics,” says the report, “only a few, mostly recent projects specifically focus on systemic aspects.”

Here the report cites PlastiCircle and the CIRC-PACK project as examples of initiatives that aim to study circularity of plastic packaging and its after-use channels.

The report is available to download via the European Commission.


Innovating to tackle plastic waste in Europe’s cities

13 March 2019

On 16 May, ICLEI Europe and the PlastiCircle project will join forces to host the special conference ‘Circular Cities – Innovating to tackle plastic waste’.

More than 100 stakeholders from across Europe will gather at Scotland House in Brussels (Belgium) to assess European Union policies on the circular economy for plastics, the role of cities in tackling plastic waste, and the industry innovations driving circularity in Europe’s urban areas.

The event will be held during this year’s EU Green Week, among a host of other partner events drawing attention to not only environmental legislation in the EU, but also the bloc’s commitment to circular economy objectives in light of a busy 2018-19 legislative calendar.

‘Circular Cities’ will welcome policy makers, civil society, business, cities, academia and a clutch of Horizon 2020 stakeholders from across the continent to address the big questions of the day. It will feature three plenary panel sessions, an ‘Innovation Space’ and three parallel interactive workshops on new materials and ecodesign for plastics in a circular economy, digitalisation for a circular economy, and measuring the circular economy with a local approach.

The conference will welcome speakers from the cities of Utrecht (The Netherlands) and Copenhagen (Denmark), organisations such as Zero Waste Scotland and Veolia, and also policy makers from the European Commission’s DG Environment, the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME), the European Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).

The lunchtime ‘Innovation Space’ will provide an excellent information-gathering and networking opportunity for all conference goers. Exhibitors include European projects such as FORCE, CIRC-PACK, BioVoices and UrbanWINS, as well as France’s PlastiPolis plastics industry cluster, Veolia, Zero Waste Scotland and the Association for Valencian companies in the plastics industries (AVEP).

The parallel workshops will provide ample opportunity for in-depth discussions and exchange. Led by the European Horizon 2020 CIRC-PACK project, 'New materials and eco-design for plastics in a circular economy' (workshop A) will be animated by speakers from the European Commission and Spanish consumer organisation OCU. Workshop B, 'Digitalisation for a circular economy' will be moderated by experts from the Wuppertal Institute and University of Bologna, as well as the PlastiCircle and Waste4Think projects. Meanwhile, workshop C, 'Measuring the circular economy - a local approach' will be led by ICLEI Europe with expert input from Circular Flanders, the city of Turin and the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB).

The official media partner for the conference is the sustainability news portal Innovators Magazine.

The programme for the conference is online at