The environmental impacts of plastics and micro-plastics use, waste and pollution: EU and national measures

22-10-2020

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the Committee on Petitions (PETI), focuses on the pervasive use of plastics and reviews the rising consensus on the potential eco-toxicological impacts of these materials, in particular of smaller plastic particles, dubbed microplastics. It discusses possible mitigation strategies aimed at curtailing the prevalence of (micro)plastics, as well as emerging alternatives and their environmental adequacy. Propelled by increasing awareness of the impacts of plastics and by public opinion, in recent years a multitude of norms, regulations, laws and recommendations have been proposed and/or implemented. These vary greatly across local, national, regional and international levels, and it is not clear what the beneficial impacts of these tools are. This study assesses these existing instruments, analyses whether they are based on sound scientific data, and discusses foreseeable challenges that could restrain the relevance and suitability of existing and future legislative proposals.

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the Committee on Petitions (PETI), focuses on the pervasive use of plastics and reviews the rising consensus on the potential eco-toxicological impacts of these materials, in particular of smaller plastic particles, dubbed microplastics. It discusses possible mitigation strategies aimed at curtailing the prevalence of (micro)plastics, as well as emerging alternatives and their environmental adequacy. Propelled by increasing awareness of the impacts of plastics and by public opinion, in recent years a multitude of norms, regulations, laws and recommendations have been proposed and/or implemented. These vary greatly across local, national, regional and international levels, and it is not clear what the beneficial impacts of these tools are. This study assesses these existing instruments, analyses whether they are based on sound scientific data, and discusses foreseeable challenges that could restrain the relevance and suitability of existing and future legislative proposals.

Autor extern

João PINTO DA COSTA (lead author), Teresa ROCHA-SANTOS, Armando C. DUARTE, Department of Chemistry and CESAM, University of Aveiro, Portugal