The PlasticsEurope Association urged the European Commission to “avoid shortcuts,” noting that “plastic product bans are not the solution and will not achieve the structural change needed to build the foundation for a sustainable and resource efficient economy.”
IK Industrievereinigung Kunstoffverpackungen e.V. (the German Association for Plastics Packaging and Films) in Bad Homburg, Germany, released a statement rejecting the proposed ban on selected plastic products. “With its far-reaching Plastics Strategy, announced at the start of the year, the EU Commission obliges all stakeholders in the value creation chain to share responsibility for sustainable recovery and reuse, thereby raising the bar considerably,” explained IK Managing Director Dr Jürgen Bruder. “Bans of individual products completely overturn this holistic approach, which our industry wholeheartedly supports. Instead of truly sustainable collection and recovery solutions, resource efficiency and raising customer awareness of sustainable consumption and environmentally responsible handling of unavoidable waste, we are now seeing unnecessary political gesturing.”
Bruder believes that bans are ineffective at raising people’s awareness and ultimately changing their behavior long term with respect to the proper disposal of single-use plastic products. “It’s really a question of how we want to live and consume,” Bruder adds. “If it has become a widespread trend to eat and drink when we’re out and about, we should be reinforcing the sustainable solutions already on offer for this, without discriminating against certain materials right from the start. After all, such bans can also lead people to fall back on materials that are ultimately even more harmful in ecological terms.”
Bruder cites a case where disposable dinnerware is beneficial: At major events, plastic plates and cutlery provide “real added value with regard to functionality, safety and hygiene.” After the event, the plastic items are collected and recycled. “Why should such applications be prohibited?” Bruder asks. “In our opinion, prohibiting individual products is wholly disproportionate.”
The IK takes the position that the EU Commission should focus on the consistent implementation of existing waste legislation. “It makes more sense to “invest political energy in closing the loop and informing citizens instead of introducing bans,” Bruder concludes.
Ultimately, bans only serve to relieve individuals of their responsibility to keep their environment free of litter. They disrupt business operations of the banned products as well as the recycling industries in developed countries that have invested heavily in the infrastructure to capture the value of plastics.
The present proposal is accompanied by a new public consultation that will be open to all stakeholders until July 23, 2018. The EuPC said it will participate in the consultation, as in its present form it “is unacceptable,” and will look at ways “to legally challenge the definition of single-use plastics.”