New EU strategy to reduce the environmental impact of plastics: debate 

The EU’s new strategy to reduce the environmental impact of plastics will be unveiled by the EU Commission on Tuesday and debated by MEPs on Wednesday.

The Commission is expected to address three interrelated issues:  dependence on virgin fossil feedstocks, rates of plastic recycling and reuse, and  leakage of plastics into the environment.

Quick facts

Plastics are used in packaging, buildings, cars, electronics, agriculture and other sectors. Plastics production today is 20 times higher than in the 1960s, and is forecast to almost quadruple by 2050.

Although there are thousands of types of plastics, 90% of them are derived from virgin fossil fuels. About 6% of global oil consumption is used to produce plastics; by 2050, this share could reach 20%.

In Europe, about 40% of post-consumer plastic waste is incinerated with energy recovery, and the rest is either landfilled or recycled. About half of the plastic waste collected and recycled is processed in the EU;  the other half is exported, mainly to China.

Commission statement with debate

Debate: Wednesday 17 January