Van Veldhoven closes deal to reduce plastic consumption

State Secretary Stientje van Veldhoven (Infrastructure and Water Management) has made an agreement with more than 70 businesses and environmental organisations to reduce plastic consumption by 20 per cent, to increase the reuse of plastic, and ensure that any new plastics are 100 per cent recyclable. Thus, we will make more efficient use of our raw materials and reduce the burden on the environment.

Ms Van Veldhoven and the participating parties – such as food companies, supermarkets, festivals, catering businesses, producers, packagers, and environmental organisations – signed the Plastic Pact on Thursday, 21 February 2019.

A problem which can be resolved

Ms Van Veldhoven: ‘Plastic is a useful and versatile material. However, it does not belong in our environment. Under the Plastic Pact, we are going to do more with less plastic. Producing less plastics, more efficient designs, different compositions, optimised recycling. Thus, we will cut back on the consumption of raw materials – which will help to reduce CO2 emissions and be of benefit to the climate! – and combat wastage and plastic soup, because it will reduce the volumes of plastic ultimately ending up in the environment.’

Marjolein Demmers, Director of Natuur & Milieu nature organisation: ‘The benefit of this Pact is that it fosters a broad-based collaboration. From packager to producer, from supermarket to waste processer: the entire chain is now tackling the problem in concert. This collaboration is essential in order to reduce waste flows, improve their recyclability, and ensure that they are actually reused in new packaging materials. In addition, legislation remains sorely needed in order to keep up the ambition and tackle other issues involving plastics, such as litter and plastic soup. We regard the Pact as a welcome supplement to such legislation.’

Plastic Pact

The participants to the Plastic Pact have committed to the following four targets for the year 2025:

  1. Plastic products and packaging to be 100 per cent recyclable;
  2. Plastic consumption to be reduced by 20 per cent vis-à-vis 2017;
  3. A minimum of 70 per cent of all single-use plastic products and packaging ending up in waste bins in the Netherlands to be recycled without loss of quality;
  4. All single-use plastic products on the market to contain at least 35 per cent recycled plastic.

At an earlier date, Ms Van Veldhoven had already embraced the European ambition to eliminate single-use plastic plates, straws, coffee stirrers, and cotton buds by 2021. However, this Pact extends further: it covers all single-use plastic products and packaging, and encompasses a wide range of businesses.

Earlier agreements on plastic bottles

In 2018, State Secretary Van Veldhoven already set down agreements  with the packaging business community regarding plastic bottles. By the autumn of 2020, the volume of plastic bottles in litter must be reduced by 70 to 90 per cent, while 90 per cent of the small bottles must be recycled. In the unlikely event of failure to attain these targets, the spring of 2021 will see the introduction of a deposit on plastic bottles. The Ministry has allocated a sum of 5 million euros to tackle plastic litter in rivers.

More efficient use of raw materials

The Cabinet intends to halve the use of raw materials by 2030 by making more efficient use of the materials we already have. The ultimate goal is to achieve a fully circular economy by 2050. The Circular Economy Implementation Programme that was recently presented outlines a host of promising projects, likely activities, and good practices. Additional attention is being focused on five sectors: biomass and food, plastics, the manufacturing industry, the construction industry, and consumer goods.

International approach

The plastics issue is a global one. This is why State Secretary Van Veldhoven is organising a European Plastic Summit in April to encourage Cabinet members in other countries to take similar steps and to identify unnecessary obstacles in the EU regulations. The international Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy – which will be relocating to the Netherlands in the near future – also views plastic as a priority.