Eliminating Plastics and Microplastics Stakeholder Conference

Summary

The conference, which took place at the Permanent Representation of the Netherlands in Brussels over 11th and 12th May 2015, sought to address the issue plastic and microplastic pollution in the aquatic environment.

 

Article

The stated objectives of the Conference were to:
• bring together policy makers and other relevant stakeholders;
• take stock of existing knowledge about plastic and microplastic entering the aquatic environment and to address gaps;
• identify concrete next steps for effectively eliminating plastic and microplastic pollution in the aquatic environment.

Elisabeth Köstinger, Member of the European Parliament Environment Committee was present, and emphasised the need for awareness raising. She also noted the incongruity that there has been no legislation specially dealing with plastic waste, and voiced her hopes that the Circular Economy proposal will feature ambitious aims regarding waste prevention and reuse, and plastic product design.

Ulf Björnholm Ottosson, Head of Office, Brussels Liaison Office to the EU Institutions, United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) stated that even after 50 years since the first debates on plastic waste, the problem was nowhere near being resolved, especially from a global perspective.  He referred to as yet unreleased figures calculated by the UN which has calculated the costs to society of plastics in the marine system as 13 billion USD per year. He stressed the importance of corporate responsibility, and in consumers and civil society stepping in. Examples he gave of civil society engagement included a Finnish initiative to name to ‘plastic continent’ currently forming in the Atlantic. He also informed the audience that UNEP was currently working on the development of a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) with a University in the Netherlands.

At the second day (12th May), The European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries addressed the conference.

 

Additional Information