- Posted on March 06, 2020

European Plastic Pact: a positive gesture but NGOs unimpressed

06/03/2020, Brussels - Today 15 EU Member States and 66 companies signed the European Plastic Pact during a high-level event in Brussels. This document, which sets a number of targets aiming at achieving a circular economy for plastics, comes as a result of political discussions led by the Danish, Dutch and French governments. The #BreakFreeFromPlastic movement welcomes some of the ambition of the Pact, but regrets the lack of involvement of civil society in the process and highlights that this initiative remains fully voluntary, and can never replace strong regulatory measures. 

The European Plastic Pact is a largely positive signal from a number of European countries and companies, who acknowledge that reduction measures and product redesign are crucial to address the plastic pollution crisis. #BreakFreeFromPlastic welcomes the commitment to reduce virgin plastic products and packaging by at least 20% by 2025, with at least 10% coming from an absolute reduction of plastics. It is important that signatories of the Pact also monitor and report the progress in reduction per unit (and not only weight) so as to ensure a true reduction in single-use products and packaging.

However, #BreakFreeFromPlastic highlights that the targets set in the Pact remain completely voluntary and that this Pact cannot come as a substitute for legislation, but should complement an ambitious and prompt implementation of EU and national legislation on packaging and single-use plastics. #BreakFreeFromPlastic also notes that there is very limited attention given to the presence of hazardous chemicals in plastic products and packaging, and measures to be taken to prevent toxic recycling [1].

Last but not least, the NGO movement is warning against potential implementation loopholes if the indicators are not properly defined and the exclusion mechanism not enforced, and is calling signatories to frequently and publicly report on progress made. #BreakFreeFromPlastic also notes that, although the Pact aims at bringing actors from across the supply chain together, virgin plastic producers are largely missing from the signatories and this is likely to hinder any significant accomplishment.

#BreakFreeFromPlastic European Coordinator, Delphine Lévi Alvarès said:

“The European Plastic Pact is a significant gesture by some industry and governments but it remains completely voluntary and can never be considered as a replacement for ambitious regulatory measures on single-use plastics and packaging. Moreover, so far the architects of the Pact have only engaged NGOs at the surface level; this is not how we envisage multi-stakeholders processes, and this largely motivates our decision not to sign the Pact. #BreakFreeFromPlastic nevertheless remains keen on playing an advisory role for the implementation and to explore with signatories how to turn some of this ambition into legislative requirements that would apply all across Europe.”


Matt Franklin, Communications Officer at Break Free From Plastic Europe

matt@breakfreefromplastic.org | +44 (0) 7923 373831

Eilidh Robb, Communications Officer at Zero Waste Europe and Rethink Plastic alliance

eilidh@zerowasteeurope.eu | +32 (0) 273 620 91


[1] Impacts of food contact chemicals on human health: a consensus statement - https://ehjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12940-020-0572-5

#BreakFreeFromPlastic is a global movement of NGOs envisioning a future free from plastic pollution, counting nearly 1,900 organisations from across the world with active members are found in all regions working towards a global, unified vision.


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