Plastic waste: retailers and wholesalers want to tackle it, but with focus on what will work best. Speaking after the vote at the EP Plenary on the own-initiative report by Mark Demesmaeker MEP (ECR, BE) on the European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy, EuroCommerce Director-General Christian Verschueren repeated the retail and wholesale sector’s commitment to creating a circular economy, but highlighted the need for a proper focus in the draft legislation the Commission has now proposed.
He said: “We are actively involved in reducing waste in the supply chain, and see Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes as a valuable tool to involve the whole chain in disposal, collection, sorting and recycling of waste. We do not consider them as the panacea to addressing systematic failures resulting in littering.
This is why we believe that EPR is already fully covered in the Waste Framework Directive and the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive, and should not be dealt with again in plastics regulation. We are also worried that the proposal for a very ambitious separate collection target for bottles could unintentionally undermine well-functioning collection systems and be impossible for small and medium-sized enterprises to meet.”
The EP report and the vote add weight to the upcoming discussion on how society produces, dismantles and discards plastics, and how this is regulated. Retailers and wholesalers have responded for many years to the growing awareness by society of the environmental impact of what it buys and throws away. A recent Eurobarometer poll showed 87% of respondents as being concerned about the health and environmental impact of plastics.
The Retail Environmental Action Programme (supported by the European Commission) reports annually on our sector’s achievements in this area. Many retailers have made a series of commitments: to reduce plastics use by at least 20% by 2025; to reach up to 100% of recyclable products by the same date; to remove single use plastics products from their stores.
EuroCommerce is the principal European organisation representing the retail and wholesale sector. It embraces national associations in 31 countries and 5.4 million companies, both leading multinational retailers such as Carrefour, Ikea, Metro and Tesco, and many small family operations.
Retail and wholesale provide a link between producers and 500 million European consumers over a billion times a day. It generates 1 in 7 jobs, providing a varied career for 29 million Europeans, many of them young people. It also supports millions of further jobs throughout the supply chain, from small local suppliers to international businesses.
EuroCommerce is the recognised European social partner for the retail and wholesale sector.