As EU ministers come up with a European strategy to fight the scourge of plastic pollution in oceans across the world, a cross party group of Danish politicians has highlighted the actions that need to be taken.
The Danish government is already taking part in a collaboration with fellow Nordic ministers of the environment in a two-year Nordic Plastic Programme to reduce the environmental impact of the material. In addition, it has decided to initiate its own programme.
In a letter to members of the EU Commission, the politicians say that it is important that any plastic strategy contains effective measures to:
- Include society in the reduction of plastic pollution;
- Ban microplastic beads in personal care products;
- Reduce the overall waste generation and the single-use of certain plastic products like take-away food packaging;
- Increase recycling and the promotion of high quality and functional markets for used plastic materials;
- Secure a process that becomes a standard within nations to reduce microplastic in the environment.
It says: "We trust the Commission will be ambitious and apply long-term thinking when broadly addressing the challenges posed by plastic consumption and disposal and to include the entire value chain.
"The problems related to plastics are not merely a waste management issue, but need to be solved by establishing new plastic value chains and replacing the current 'take-make-dispose’ system with a circular one, recirculating high quality waste material streams to be used in high quality products without compromising health and safety.
"We encourage the Commission to encourage this aspect in the relevant legislative measures that are proposed across the sectors."
It adds that there are several Danish examples which have proved effective in reducing plastic pollution, waste reduction and increasing the quality of plastic waste to encourage recirculation. These include marine environment patrols, recycling of fishing nets, reusable food packaging and the deposit and return system of beverage containers.
"Establishing new plastic value chains requires a supportive regulatory framework across Europe and working in tandem with businesses to find good solutions," it says. "It is our hope that our Danish examples will inspire the Commission to include measures that support initiatives like these."