All eyes on the Plastics Strategy

ECOS continues alongside its partners from the Reth!nk Plastic Alliance towards securing ambitious provisions to avoid plastic pollution in the much anticipated European Commission Plastics Strategy. The Commission’s Plastics Strategy will be issued as part of the Circular Economy Action Plan and is expected to be published early December. We’re doing everything we can to make sure it is as ambitious as possible.

On the policy side, ECOS has contributed to the Commission consultation investigating options for reducing releases in the environment of microplastics. We also submitted a complementary paper bringing in the standardisation perspective to ensure a proper prevention of microplastics emissions, while stressing the importance to accurately assess microplastics pollution in the environment.

ECOS also attended a Commisison workshop dedicated to the role of bio-based and biodegradable plastics in the plastics strategy. We stressed the need to clearly communicate what a plastic material product does in certain conditions (e.g. industrially compostable plastic, plastic degradable in soil) is the cornerstone of good communication to the consumer, can counteract false claims and provide a basis for plastic product marking and labeling. Furthermore, we highlighted that some product standards may not necessarily fulfill all desired criteria. As an example, the standard prEN 17033 on agricultural mulch films biodegradable in soil still tolerates added components from 1-10% which individually might not biodegrade in soil.

On the standardisation side, CEN’s SABE (Strategic Advisory Board on Environment) ENV team focusing on environmental monitoring has dedicated a special thematic session to (micro)plastics in the environment. ECOS formally introduced Rethink Plastic at this meeting and presented the NGO views on how standards can help reduce plastic pollution. The presentations from this meeting will feed into a position paper on the control and monitoring of (micro)plastics in the environment to be delivered in March 2018. Once approved by the CEN Technical Board (BT), the paper will serve as strategic guidance to CEN Technical Committees (TCs) working on standards relevant to plastics.

With all eyes on the upcoming publication of the Plastics Strategy, CEN/TC 249 ‘Plastics’ created a new working group dedicated to channeling standardisation activities of plastic products and materials with respect to environmental considerations. The purpose of the CEN/TC 249/WG 24 ‘Environmental aspects’ is to collect and oversee standards work relevant to plastics and the environment, and provide a platform for dialogue between Technical Committees as well as external stakeholders, including the European Commission.