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The EU Plastic Strategy published

16 January 2018

The European Commission adopted earlier today a new Circular Economy package, including ‘A European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy’ and the related Staff Working Document (SWD); the Communication on the implementation of the circular economy package: options to address the interface between chemical, product and waste legislation and the relative SWD; a report on the impact of the use of oxo-degradable plastic, including oxo-degradable plastic carrier bags, on the environment.   

In the SWD on the Plastic Strategy the European Commission considers micro-plastics both under the evaluation of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD) and under the revision of the DWD. 

The Commission clarifies that “the development of a test standard for the quantification (both in mass and number) of the micro-plastics in the influent, effluent and sludge output of wastewater treatment plants seems a necessary basis for more subsequent measures such as the development of a new EPR scheme. It could be designed in a way that the sources predominantly responsible for microplastics in waste water treatment cover the costs of remedial action to increase micro-plastics capture. The feasibility and cost-benefit assessment is however needed. Further measures could follow in the context of a future review of the Urban Waste Water Treatment (UWWT) Directive.” 

We can also expect micro-plastics to be mentioned in the hazard assessment of the new Drinking Water Directive, whose adoption is scheduled for the 31 January 2018. The Commission indicates that “although micro-plastics are not a parameter listed in the Drinking Water Directive 98/83/EC, Member States have to take all actions to ensure that drinking water does not pose a risk to human health. It is therefore for the Member State to decide on appropriate actions to be taken, in light of the precautionary principle if relevant. As the pathways into drinking water and possible health effects through drinking water are not well known, further information on their existence in source water should be gathered i.e. by hazard assessments of abstraction zones.”         

To discuss the measures included in the 2018 Circular Economy Package, the Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee will host the 2018 edition of the Circular Economy Stakeholder Conference on 20-21 February in Brussels

We can expect Council Conclusions on the plastic strategy to be adopted by the Environment Council as well as an own-initiative (INI) report by the European Parliament.


Water matters. EU matters. 

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