June 1st saw the release of the European Parliament’s draft opinion on the Circular Economy. Authored by Italian Socialist MEP Simona Bonafè, it contains proposals that will be vital to tackling the EU’s contribution to the global marine litter crisis.
While existing proposals from the Commission contained points on waste prevention and littering, Ms Bonafè has gone considerably further in proposing a legally binding 50% marine litter reduction target for 2030, to build upon the non-binding ‘aspirational’ target of 30% reduction the Commission had set. The report has also called for specific marine litter reduction measures to be included in member states’ waste prevention programmes, with monitoring, reporting and uniform methodologies to be established, focusing on the land-based generation of litter.
Emma Priestland, Seas At Risk marine litter policy officer said ‘Setting a legally binding marine litter reduction target is a huge step towards tackling Europe’s contribution to the marine litter crisis globally. This target will provide the push to take the ambitious measures necessary to deal with this problem, and we welcome the proposals of Ms Bonafè to enshrine it in EU law.’
Other amendments will make a big difference should they be accepted in the final package, including an obligation for member states to achieve a significant and sustained reduction in single-use plastic packaging, and to minimise the environmental impact of packaging.
Gaëlle Haut, Surfrider Foundation Europe, EU affairs officer said ‘Bonafè’s report proposes provisions to drastically reduce single-use packaging and promote prevention. If adopted these would help make Europe’s move to a truly circular economy a reality. They have the potential to reduce a major source of pollution of our beaches and oceans which costs Europeans up to €600 million a year’.
The draft report is the first step in the European Parliament formulating its opinion on the Circular Economy proposals, including the revision of the Waste Framework Directive and the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive. The MEPs of the Parliament’s Environment Committee will now submit their amendments before the end of June, with a vote after the summer.
Sarah Baulch, Environmental Investigation Agency’s oceans campaigner said ‘EIA welcomes the measures introduced in Bonafè’s report, which will be essential to helping Europe meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal to significantly reduce marine debris by 2025.We urge MEPs to propose ambitious measures to specifically tackle the top litter items found on European beaches’.
Seas At Risk, Surfrider Foundation Europe and the Environmental Investigation Agency are working together to ensure that European legislators agree an ambitious set of measures under the Circular Economy package that enable strong European-wide action to tackle the growing problem of marine litter.