Breakthrough in combating plastic soup

In order to force a breakthrough, after many years, in the struggle against plastic soup, State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management Stientje van Veldhoven has joined forces with the packaging sector, municipalities, and other parties involved to set down new goals and measures: reducing the proportion of plastic bottles in litter by 70 to 90 per cent, and 90 per cent of small bottles to be reused.

The business community and the municipalities will set to work immediately. In the unlikely event that the agreed targets will not have been met by the autumn of 2020, a plastic bottle deposit scheme will be introduced with effect from 1 January 2021. Plastic bottles up to 1 litre will be subject to a deposit of 10 to 15 cents. Considerations will apply to small shopkeepers if the scheme is introduced. Preparations for the required legislation are already in process.

Harmful to the environment

State Secretary Van Veldhoven: “Litter is harmful to the environment and affects our well-being. We all know the images: litter strewn all over roadsides in the Netherlands, beaches in Bali covered in bottles, marine life filled with plastic. This must stop! A deposit scheme will help – this we know – so I intend to set in motion the introduction of returnable small bottles. But if another strategy will be quicker to produce the same result, a deposit scheme will not be necessary. As long as we are tackling the plastic soup and producing new bottles out of old ones.”

Broad approach to litter

Litter comprises more than just plastic bottles. That is why State Secretary Van Veldhoven keeps stressing the need for a broad waste and litter strategy. To this end, the National Litter Strategy will be presented this year. One of its spearheads will be to involve residents in keeping roadsides, public gardens, and parks clean. To achieve this goal, the State Secretary will join forces with manufacturers (responsible for sustainabilisation) and municipalities, which will take measures in the fields of enforcement, clean-up efforts, and siting waste bins.

Packaging

Currently, much packaging is difficult to reuse. Responsibility for this issue lies with the manufacturers. State Secretary Van Veldhoven intends to encourage the use of better packaging by having manufacturers producing poorly recyclable packaging to pay a surcharge for cleaning up our waste. Manufacturers who are on the right track will pay less. The State Secretary is going to discuss the details with the business community. Their collective goal is for 90 per cent of plastic bottles to qualify for reuse.

The Netherlands going circular

The transition to a circular economy is in full swing in the Netherlands. This is sorely needed in order to combat climate change. On 15 January last, State Secretary Van Veldhoven received the plans for the development of a sustainable, circular Dutch economy by 2050. The plans relate to the sectors of Biomass & Food, Construction, Consumer Goods, Plastics, and the Manufacturing Industry. Within the context of the elaboration of the climate agenda, a Cabinet response to the plans will be submitted to the House of Representatives before the summer.