We are drowning in plastic. A World Economic Forum report has said that plastics will outnumber fish (by weight) by 2050. Nevertheless, the Plastics Industry is completely opposed to a ban on single-use plastics, eg. coffee stirrers, cotton buds, drink straws, etc. The EU's Better Regulation and David Cameron's "Cutting Red Tape" policies are good for business, but very bad for citizens and the planet.
The industry has moved the debate to litter and clean-up, rather than fundamental issues such as product design, manufacturing processes, and developing re-useable or non-plastic alternatives. This greenwashes single-use plastic packaging with the veneer of environmental respectability, and shifts responsibility for tackling plastic waste onto local authorities and citizens. The industry has spent £millions on lobbying against the European Commission's Plastics Strategy, with § PlasticsEurope leading the attack, backed up by the European Chemical Industry Council, Dow, § Cosmetics Europe, § European Plastics Converters Association, § Plastics Recyclers Europe, and so on.
The end result: the Plastics Strategy only contains "voluntary ambitions" that boost the recycling market. Voluntary targets are great for industry - they look like action is being taken, so tough regulation and mandatory rules aren't implemented. Why legislators keep swallowing this is a source of mystery.
The Plastics Strategy was a complete waste of time and money. It is very clear that the industry fully intends to continue manufacturing as much plastic as possible, because more plastic means higher profits. Hence the push for fracking in the UK, backed by Ineos - because manufacturing plastics is what Ineos does.
The Plastics Industry is fighting back against a plastics tax by playing hardball, to wit, threats. PlasticsEurope said "We do not believe that this would be reasonable. A new tax on plastics, plastic products or products containing plastics would be very complicated. In the end, the consumer would have to pay for it". ref. BusinessEurope said "In our view, if there is one way to kill off appetite for investment in research and innovation in the circular economy, it is to raise a non-material tax of which the revenues flow into the general state coffers". ref In other words, "Forget doing anything that lowers our profits".
Sounds good: you recover energy, get rid of the problem, everyone wins, right? Incineration is controversial and highly damaging for health and the environment. https://metamag.org/2018/05/11/5-things-weve-learnt-about-the-eus-new-rules-for-waste-incineration/
Hum. What exactly does recycling mean? Export to the East? Dump it in Poland? ...
Just ask one question: "What form of life can eat the end result and benefit from it?"
See also Oxo-degradable plastics: degradation, environmental impact and recycling (spoiler: it's a very bad idea).
Plant-based "Compostable" Plastics: products need to be industrially composted in specific units that are so scarce in Britain, most compostable packaging is burned or goes to landfill.
- Mar.29.2018: Are compostable alternatives to plastics all they’re cracked up to be? ... If compostable packaging doesn’t solve the plastic problem, then what does? 1. Replace single-use items with reusable ones. 2. Buy single-use products that can be recycled. Paper Round.
- Mar.22.2018: Biodegradable Plastic: Is It REALLY Eco-Friendly? A one-word label "biodegradable" tells us nothing about the true biodegradability of a product. What does it biodegrade into? Toxic or non-toxic? How long does the process actually take? Yet companies plaster it on their products in an effort to make us believe they are more eco-friendly. Treading My Own Path.
The industry is bartering "voluntary agreements" in return for massive funding, such as the EU's Horizon 2020. ref So there's a nice healthy flow of taxpayer $$s into industry pockets, whilst these self-same companies evade taxation, grossly overpay their CEOs, and increase their shareholder dividends.
An example: in 2016 the French govt passed a law which included provisions to ensure all cups and plates should be made with biologically-sourced and compostable materials rather than plastic. Packaging lobbyist Eamonn Bates opposed it saying, “We are urging the European Commission to do the right thing and to take legal action against France for infringing European law…. If they don’t, we will.” He has similarly criticised the Irish Waste Reduction Bill which aims to ban some single-use plastics and introduce a deposit return scheme, on the grounds that it would break single market rules on packaging and the free movement of goods. ref
We know that when the Parliament and Council discussed the plastics bag ban a few years ago, they were subjected to serious industry lobbying on the topic, with lobbyists joining forces with the MEPs and member states unwilling to take action.
Cosmetics Europe is the European trade association for the cosmetics and personal care industry, and represents 4,500+ member companies and associations. CE's mission is to shape a European operating environment conducive to long term growth and a sustainable future; its role is to ensure that the voice of the industry is heard in the EU legislative and policy debate. "For decades we have worked closely with policy makers to ensure that European regulation is as appropriate and effective as possible." Membership of Cosmetics Europe allows associations and companies to truly help shape the regulatory and policy landscape within which our industry must operate. website, members, about
European Plastics Converters Association
EuPC, founded in 1989 and based in Brussels, is the EU-level trade association of European plastics converters. EuPC focuses on market development, regulation, issue management and trade.
EuPC members are 28 national plastics processing associations representing the plastics converting industry; it also represents 18 European sectoral associations of particular plastic markets or industry materials.
EuPC has 4 divisions: Packaging, Building & Construction, Automotive & Transport and Technical Parts. Each represents the different markets of the plastic converting industry. website
- Oct.18.2018: Single use plastics: a political or environmental decision?. The proposal for a Directive on the reduction of single-use plastics has been already criticised for the poor assessment and lack of LCA by the European Commission. European Converters are afraid that much single-use packaging, which is proven to guarantee health, hygiene and safety of use, would be discriminated for allegedly environmental solutions, such as paper cups with plastics coating, that do not necessarily perform better than plastic cups. Felix Miessen, European Plastics Converters.
A Europe-wide industry association. PlasticsEurope is one of Brussels’ biggest lobby groups, deploying the equivalent of 8 full-time lobbyists and holding the same number of European Parliament access passes. Its members include all the big names in chemicals and petrochemicals: BASF, Borealis AG, Dow Europe, ExxonMobil Chemical, Ineos, Novamont, Solvay, and many others. PlasticsEurope’s self-declared EU lobby spending figures indicate it has an annual lobby budget of €1,500,000 - €1,749,000 (2016 figures; 2017 figures not yet available). It shares an office building with CEFIC, the European Chemical Industry Council, with whom it shares many interests and collaborates closely. 2015 leaks of PlasticsEurope’s and CEFIC’s lobbying strategies on chemicals in plastics exposed how the undermining of science had been an effective advocacy strategy. CEFIC is one of Brussels’ highest-spending lobbyists and in 2017 had 5 meetings with the Commission on the Plastics Strategy alone. ref, ref, ref, ref, ref. website
Pack2Go Europe is a membership organisation (trade lobby group) for companies that manufacture packaging for the "conveinece food" industry - food and beverages consumed on-the-go every day, as well as suppliers of raw materials and technology
Pack2Go is dedicated to ensuring there is no negative impact by govts on the industry's single-use products. They are extremely proud of "working tirelessly" to reject national restrictions on single-use packaging.ref, ref
Plastics Recyclers Europe
PRE was established in 1996, and represents approximately 80% of the European Union’s mechanical recycling capacity. PRE provides plastics recyclers with representation at the EU level, and is one of the key stakeholders in the process of formulating, monitoring and evaluating the EU policies that impact plastics recyclers.
It promotes the use of quality plastic recyclates and offers concrete advice to develop innovative products and packages that have an eco-friendly design. PRE supports the transition towards a circular economy. website, about, 
- Nov.07.2017: Joint paper on why oxo-degradable plastic packaging is not a solution to plastic pollution, and does not fit in a circular economy. Together with over 150 organisations, EuPC backs the call of the New Plastics Economy to ban oxo-degradable plastic packaging. The joint statement provides information on oxo-degradable plastics packaging and argues for a global ban. Felix Miessen, European Plastics Converters.
- The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the future of plastics. The Case for Rethinking Plastics, Starting with Packaging. World Economic Forum, Jan.2016.
- Packaging lobby’s support for anti-litter groups deflects tougher solutions. The Power of Lobbies, Corporate Europe Observatory, Marc.28.2018.
- Plastic Waste: a European strategy to protect the planet, defend our citizens and empower our industries. The new strategy will: make recycling profitable for business, drive investment and innovation, curb plastic waste, stop littering at sea, and spur change across the world. The "European Strategy for Plastics" web page is here. Press Release, European Commission, Han.16.2018.
- EU Plastics Strategy. European Commission, Nov.20.2018.
- Plastic promises: Industry seeking to avoid binding regulations. The plastics industry mounted a significant lobby campaign to influence the European Commission’s recent Plastics Strategy. Industry is now seeking to unpick or undermine key elements of the strategy through lacklustre or non-existing voluntary commitments, or outright opposition. The Power of Lobbies, Cororate Europe Observatory, May.22.2018.
- France bans plastic cups, plates and cutlery. § Pack2Go Europe says it will keep fighting the new law. Pack2go maintained that consumers will think the ban means that it is okay to leave this packaging behind in the countryside after use because it's easily bio-degradable in nature, and may even make the litter problem worse. Shehab Khan, The Independent, Sept.17.2016.
- Ex-Tory MP entangled in EU plastic bag lobbying row. A former Tory MP who is now working for leading plastic manufacturer Symphony Environmental Technologies is facing claims the business is exploiting its employees’ links to the Conservatives to block a ban on plastic bags at European Union level. The company offers oxo-degradable plastics - a technology that creates direct and indirect environmental problems, but the Tories are protecting it. James Crisp, EurActiv, Nov.14.2014.