The European Commission has summarized a review of plastic pollution policies in Europe. The results underscore the need for further work in this area.

Plastic pollution in Europe a topic of interest to politicians and scientists

As the European Commission points out, “The risks to human health and the environment from the widespread use of plastics and plastic pollution in Europe are a serious concern for citizens and scientists alike. Although many researchers have identified the harmful effects of plastics on humans and the environment, there is little scientific knowledge about these risks.”

In this regard – as part of the ongoing analysis – the extent to which European policies are based on research in this area was examined. The analysis included:

  • Regional action plans for the Northeast Atlantic (OSPAR) and the Baltic (HELCOM) to reduce marine waste;
  • A strategy for plastics in a circular economy;
  • Directive on single-use plastics;
  • a proposal by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to restrict the use of intentionally added plastic microplastics;
  • UN amendments to Annexes II, VIII and IX of the Basel Convention on plastic waste.

The conclusions of the document evaluation are optimistic. Actually, all policies are based on scientific achievements, including published articles. As many as 4 out of 6 policies include data collection. This form, the EC stresses, appears to be the main scientific driving force behind efforts to combat plastic pollution. The scientific tools that have shaped policy include risk assessment, impact assessment and life cycle assessment. In conclusion, plastic pollution in Europe is a topic that is taken up frequently and given due attention.

Plastic pollution still a big problem in Europe

Very importantly, the policies underscore the importance of uncertainty about the real impact of plastic pollution on people’s health and lives. The researchers therefore point out that it is necessary to flexibly adapt EU policies related to plastics to the evolving scientific knowledge about their effects on humans. It was pointed out that the research must provide answers in terms of the entire life cycle of plastic products, not just their final stage. Lawmakers aim to reduce plastic pollution in Europe.

The entire information published by the EC, along with the source study, is available on the DG Environment website.

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