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Plastics: retailers and wholesalers support action, but still concerned at broadened producer responsibility

19 December 2018
by eub2 -- last modified 19 December 2018

Today's agreement in the Council on the directive on the reduction of the impact of certain plastics products on the environment sends a clear signal on the need to ensure that plastics can no longer be wasted.


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The retail and wholesale sector supports regulators' attempts to fight damaging plastics pollution, and is already acting to reduce plastics use, but continues to have strong doubts on the whether the waste and litter management systems suggested in the final compromise will work.  These concerns are centred in particular on extended producer responsibility for cleaning up litter and paying for the infrastructure and operation of collection systems.

EuroCommerce Director-General Verschueren commented:

"Our sector's commitment to sustainable use of plastics is absolutely clear, and we will continue to do all we can to respond to our customers' demand for safe and sustainable products. We will of course observe the legislation, but must warn that there are elements which expect retailers to take responsibility for issues such as littering over which they can only have limited influence."

Retailers and wholesalers have actively engaged in decreasing the volume of plastics used in their stores and throughout the supply chain in order to reduce the impact of plastics on the environment. A number of our members have directly made pledges on plastics reduction with the European Commission, and others committed through other platforms such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation or under the Consumer Goods Forum.

In concrete terms, these commitments mean the absolute elimination of unnecessary single use plastics items, higher levels of recycled content in their products, as well as the use of innovative modes of sales to reduce packaging such as "natural branding", with this being printed directly on the peel of fruit and vegetables with a laser instead of using a plastic sticker.

EuroCommerce is the voice for six million retail, wholesale, and other trading companies. Its 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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