On Tuesday 21 February 2018, the European Parliament’s Environment Committee held an exchange of views with Commissioner for Growth and Investment Katainen on the implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan.
The Commissioner presented the Plastics Strategy to the Committee outlining its key points. He was clear that new legal initiatives are possible to support the Communication in coming months.

In course of the debate, MEP Mark Demesmaeker (ECR, BE), ENVI Rapporteur on the own-initiative report on the Plastics Strategy, inquired whether there would be any funds for research and innovation in sorting and recycling technologies earmarked after 2020. MEP was concerned whether the EU would be prepared to further develop its capacity to recycle plastics after the introduction of the China ban.

When it comes to the China ban, Commissioner Katainen hopes that the EU will be fast enough to develop capacity and needed innovation to deal with plastic waste. In addition, this topic, in the framework of the Plastics Strategy, is to be included on the agenda of the high level economic dialogue with China and, hopefully, Japan later this year.

Commissioner Katainen mentioned the Commission’s plans to develop standards for sorted and recycled plastics. MEP Jo Leinen (S&D, DE) also highlighted the importance of developing these measures.

In his intervention, the Commissioner explained that the Commission would need more time to look into how to introduce a plastic tax. This is because one could tax those buying plastic products, but it could also be possible to tax fossil fuels which are used to make plastic.

Last, but not least, Commissioner Katainen challenged the ENVI Committee to introduce an “internal plastics strategy” in the European Parliament, similarly to the new rules in the Commission. The institution has pledged to limit the use of e.g. plastic water bottles.