Ms Van Veldhoven aims to stop the export of plastic waste by western countries

State Secretary Stientje van Veldhoven (Infrastructure and Water Management) wants European and other western countries to stop exporting plastic waste. This is what she will be advocating today to her international counterparts, at the G20 environment and energy summit in Japan. This is the first annual summit to include a separate environment meeting.

Ms Van Veldhoven: ‘Western countries should not be exporting plastic waste anymore. Not to Malaysia, not to Indonesia, not anywhere. We should be able to process our own plastic waste rather than shipping it to other parts of the world. We need to set down agreements to this end at the international level.’

Last month, Malaysia announced that it would be returning 3,000 tons of illegal plastic waste to the countries of origin. China already terminated its plastic waste imports at an earlier date. Exported plastic waste is not always recycled in appropriate plants. In some cases, the plastic is dumped, thus polluting water and the soil in the country of destination. In other cases, plastic that is unsuitable for recycling is incinerated. Ms Van Veldhoven intends to discuss the issue of terminating the export of plastic waste from European countries with officials such as the new EU Commissioner who will be responsible for environmental policy.

Tackling plastic waste

The Dutch Cabinet intends to halve the consumption of resources by 2030 by making more efficient use of the materials that are already available. The ultimate goal: a fully circular economy by 2050.

In February, State Secretary Van Veldhoven set down the so-called Plastic Pact, which was signed by more than 70 Dutch businesses and environmental organisations. Its goal is to reduce plastic consumption by 20 per cent, to boost the reuse of plastic, and to have all new plastics 100 per cent recyclable.

At the European level, Ms Van Veldhoven is making an effort to encourage government leaders of other countries to follow suit, and to identify unnecessary obstacles in EU regulations. Plastic is also one of the priorities of the international Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy, which will be relocating to the Netherlands in the near future.

G20 summit

On behalf of the Dutch Cabinet, State Secretary Van Veldhoven will be attending the G20 Ministerial Meeting on Energy Transitions and Global Environment for Sustainable Growth on Friday, 15 June and Saturday, 16 June. This year, the Netherlands will be attending this international summit in Karuizawa, Japan as a guest nation. The exchange of knowledge on topics such as the circular economy is one of the elements of the collective sustainable ambitions that the participating countries intend to coordinate.