30 April 2020

Covid-19 prompts calls from plastics industry to delay measures tackling plastic pollution

ECOS has joined environmental NGOs and the European Commission in dismissing any attempts at weakening and derailing the effective implementation of the SUP Directive.

Meanwhile, various stakeholders point to single use plastic items as helpful in containing the spread of the coronavirus, especially when it comes to masks and medical packaging, as well as to plastic packaging as a way to ensure health and safety across the food chain. Such worrying interventions are accompanied by letters and official statements calling for delays in implementing measures on single use items, and launching opportunistic attacks on the already established EU environmental legislation in the plastics field.

First, it needs to be pointed out that medical devices are explicitly excluded from the Directive. Secondly, there is no evidence that an increased use of single use plastic packaging will help contain the pandemic. Reports from the Food Packaging Forum show that reusable packaging is still to be considered safe, if it is properly used and washed in commercial dishwashers or at home. Plastic items do not present an advantage as it has been shown the SARS-CoV-2 virus can persist on plastic for two to three days. 

From both a legal and scientific perspective, there is no evidence nor reason to disqualify EU legislation in the field. It will continue to be implemented in a democratic and inclusive process, as it was designed to serve the environment and human health. The need to build more resilient practices and less wasteful economies is present more than ever when facing societal challenges such as the Covid-19 crisis.

ECOS is co-funded by the European Commission and EFTA

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