Research shows that plastic production increases with GDP: production during the past decade equalled that of the entire 20th century. The same characteristics that make plastic ubiquitous – durability, light weight and low cost – make its disposal problematic. In this context, ongoing discussions on better handling the problem of plastic waste are part of the in-depth review of existing EU waste policy and legislation.
The European Commission report on the thematic strategy on the prevention and recycling of waste signals a move towards material-specific targets to meet the Europe 2020 objective of promoting a resource-efficient economy. However, an urgent revision, as much as better enforcement of the existing waste and packaging directives seems necessary, to address specific issues concerning plastic waste. Plastic waste could become a valuable resource if separate collection circuits were designed to ensure that single-use plastic packaging could be phased out through an effective roadmap towards the circular economy.