Environment ministers strike a blow for the sustainable use of plastic

02.05.17 | News
In future, plastic should be produced, used and recycled in a circular process that presents no risks to health or the environment. This is the vision set out in the Nordic programme to reduce the environmental impact of plastic, in which the environment ministers plot a course toward more sustainable use and recycling of plastic.

“A change of course is needed at global level in order to reduce the volume of plastic debris and microplastics in the seas. The Nordic programme to reduce the environmental impact of plastic is part of our input into this work to ameliorate the global impact of plastic on the environment. I hope that we will achieve a close working relationship and that between us we will come up with relevant measures,” says the Norwegian climate and environment minister, Vidar Helgesen, who chairs the Nordic Council of Ministers for the Environment in 2017.

The programme is a strategic tool. It builds on previous work on plastics, encourages Nordic synergies and raises awareness and the level of knowledge about plastics in the Region. In particular, the ministers highlight the challenge posed by marine waste and the role played by plastic in the circular economy.

“It is important that the Nordic Region pioneers measures to reduce the environmental impact of plastics. We need to adopt measures that will reduce emissions of microplastics into lakes and sea, so it is important that official Nordic agencies work even more closely together, share information, enhance their knowledge and discuss their experiences,” says the Swedish environment Minister, Karolina Skog. 

Six strategic areas

The Plastics Programme contains six strategic themes:

1) Prevention of plastic waste and support for design that promotes greater reuse, longer life-time and recycling

2) Effective waste-management systems and increased recycling of plastic waste

3) Co-operation on measures to stop plastic waste in the sea and find cost-effective clean-up solutions

4) Advancing knowledge of microplastics and identifying measures to cut emissions to the environment

5) Advancing knowledge of the environmental impacts and advantages of bio-based alternatives to plastic and biodegradable plastics

6) Advancing knowledge of problematic substances in recycling plastic materials.

Support for international efforts

As well as setting a course for the Nordic Region, the Plastics Programme will also serve as input into international work, including the UN sustainable development goals (the Agenda 2030 SDGs), the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) and the UN campaign against marine waste, #CleanSeas, which is being run by UN Environment (UNEP).

In a letter to the European Commission, which is currently working on a strategy for plastic in the circular economy, the Nordic Council of Ministers for the Environment underlines the importance of creating a second-hand market for plastics, stimulating design that encourages recycling and introducing measures to combat microplastics in consumer products.

See also:

  • #CleanSeas in the Nordic Region and around the world
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