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Retailers and wholesalers support action on plastics, but concerned over practicalities

28 May 2018
by eub2 -- last modified 28 May 2018

Following today's publication of the Commission proposal on single-use plastics, the retail and wholesale sector reiterated its commitment to promoting the circular economy and tackling plastic waste. The sector has already demonstrated its leadership in reducing packaging and single-use plastics, following a number of 3R (reduce, reuse, recycle) strategies, and made collective and individual commitments on doing so, including an 80% reduction in overall waste.


Long before the Commission's regulation on reducing the use of plastics, retailers have taken proactive measures to cut their reliance on plastics. These include encouraging customers to collect and return their plastic waste, increasing their share of recycled products and carrier bags made of renewable plastics, and encouraging reduced-packaging refills of bodycare products. The effectiveness and success of such initiatives have been closely monitored by an independent operator under the umbrella of the European Commission and is collected in the REAP database.

In addition to these measures, the sector is also engaged in supporting behavioural change through awareness and information campaigns. For instance, some of our members have released information to facilitate waste sorting by their customers for nearly 14,000 food and non-food products.

EuroCommerce welcomes Europe's leadership in promoting the transition to a circular economy. Preventing harmful environmental impacts of single-use plastics is an important step on that journey. Retailers and wholesalers are already, and want to in the future, play their part in combating littering, but this needs to be shared among all stakeholders, from producers to consumers. The sector is in the middle between producers and consumers, and collection, recycling and cleaning of litter cannot be its responsibility alone. EuroCommerce has questions on the practicality and impact of some measures. One must look hard at questions of extended producer responsibility, hygiene, safety and convenience.

EuroCommerce Director-General, Christian Verschueren, said:

"Extended producer responsibility must not mean supermarkets ending up as waste collectors. We can act as an enabler of sustainable behaviour for our many million customers, but other players, including many industries and government, have to step to the plate as well."

EuroCommerce is the voice for six million retail, wholesale, and other trading companies. Our members include national commerce federations in 31 countries, Europe's 27 leading retail and wholesale companies, and federations representing specific sectors of commerce.

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