DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV.com PLC.
Lightweight, durable, and low-cost plastics have transformed the products we make and consume, becoming ubiquitous through their convenience and adaptability.
A recent briefing paper by IEEP sets out the damage that plastics can cause to our ocean environment, with complementary product briefs outlining the damage from microbeads, polystyrene, and single-use plastics respectively. Up to 12.5 million tonnes of plastic enters the oceans as marine litter every year, creating huge environmental, social, and economic costs. And it’s not only the visible plastic causing damage: a new IUCN report shows that up to 30% of plastic pollution in the seas is caused by microplastic particles, coming from products like personal care cosmetics, synthetic textiles and car tyres.
These are problems that need to be urgently solved if we are to move towards a more circular economy. The UN has just announced its own ‘Clean Seas’ campaign to tackle the plastics problem. In Europe, the European Commission has promised action to make plastics part of the circular economy. The EU plastics strategy is critical to addressing this, and the Commission is looking for ideas to include in its plan, which will be published by the end of the year.