New EU Directives on single-use plastics and marine environment

New EU Directives on single-use plastics and marine environment

In an effort to tackle plastic litter through a legislative action along the European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy, the European Parliament and European Council have recently adopted new measures combating marine plastic pollution in our seas and oceans that contribute to the transition towards circular economy.

The two new directives aim to tackle steady increase in plastic waste generation and the leakage of plastic waste into the environment, in particular into the marine environment in order to achieve a circular life cycle for plastics. Both directives complement each other, in particular through the application of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes for supporting the collection of waste fishing gear and passively fished waste.

The EU directive 2019/904 of 5 June 2019 on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment focuses on reducing the impact of certain plastic products on the environment, in particular the aquatic environment, and on human health, as well as to promote the transition to a circular economy with innovative and sustainable business models, products and materials, thus also contributing to the efficient functioning of the internal market. The intention of the directive is to ensure the producers of fishing gear contribute to the cost of collection of that gear. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes are proposed that will identify the producers in a Member State and determine how much gear is placed on the market in that MS. This will then be used as a basis for charging producers a proportion of the cost of collection. To reverse the trend of increasing consumption of single-use plastics and to promote efforts towards more sustainable solutions, Member States should be required to take the necessary measures, for example by setting national consumption reduction targets, to achieve an ambitious and sustained reduction in the consumption of those products, without compromising food hygiene, food safety, good hygiene practices, good manufacturing practices, consumer information, or traceability requirements.

The directive is accessible in all EU languages here:

The directive EU 2019/883 of 17 April 2019 on port reception facilities for the delivery of waste from ships, amending 2010/65/EU Directive and repealing Directive 2000/59/EC has the objective to protect the marine environment against the negative effects from discharges of waste from ships using ports located in the Union, while ensuring the smooth operation of maritime traffic. This is aimed by improving the availability and use of adequate port reception facilities and the delivery of waste to those facilities. The updated PRF Directive includes requirements for ports to provide adequate waste collection facilities, including for fishing gear waste and passively fished waste. It also requires vessels over a certain size to document their waste and provide this on arrival in port. The PRF Directive is accessible in all EU languages here:

Both EU directives will be implemented from 2021 onward, with much of the detail on how Member States should structure EPR and collection schemes left to them to decide. The EU implementing acts will set out what monitoring data and reporting is required from Member States on an annual basis with regard to gear (fishing and aquaculture) placed on the market; waste gear (waste and End of Life fishing & aquaculture gear) and passively fished waste collected.

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