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Danish government publishes a new plan to tackle plastic pollution
“We cannot live without plastic”, writes the Danish Environment and Food Minister, Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, in the preface of the new Danish plastic plan. Plastic is used in most products, and it has beneficial qualities that cannot be denied. It is so useful that we cannot get rid of it completely, but we must find a solution to the problems plastic has caused.
Plastic pollution has become a global issue. Plastic decomposes slowly and is especially tricky to recycle. There are several different grades of plastic that need to be separated from each other, and at the same time recycled plastic should be clean (for example from food and other organic contaminants).
Support for new research and existing initiatives
In their plan to manage plastic pollution, the Danish government has identified several approaches to the problem. There are 27 plastic initiatives introduced in the plan, and the government has earmarked 50 million Danish kroners to support them. In the following we shortly sum up the initiatives.
The published plan begins with the introduction of plastic value chain, and what the government plans to do in order to make it more effective. The government wants to support new technologies, map out business potential in Danish plastic companies and research plastic consumption.
The Danish government is calling for producer responsibility with its “from cradle to cradle”-thinking and is showing support for the existing recycling initiatives. Denmark has not implemented EU regulation on producer responsibility on packaging materials, but there is a deposit-system in place for beverage packaging. The existing deposit system and other initiatives are now fully backed and supported by the Danish government.
Household plastics – a plan for a difficult fraction
While most of plastic waste in Denmark (37%) comes from industry, it is the household plastics (27% of all plastic waste) that are especially tricky to recycle. The European Union has set higher targets for plastic recycling and in order to achieve them, Denmark has to assess the problem with household plastics.
The Danish government is suggesting a standardized collection for household plastics. According to the plan, standardization should make it easier for citizens to sort their plastic waste, make waste management more cost effective and grow the market for plastic waste.
The government introduces altogether 27 initiatives to assess the problems with plastic pollution. Some of them take practical action, like cleaning up shorelines, collecting abandoned fishing gear from the ocean and other waterways, information campaigns to reduce dumping, regulating the materials used in shot shell hulls, regulating use of plastic bags, regulating use of microplastics, etc.
The overall goal is to limit unnecessary use of plastics and to reduce the amount of plastic scrap in the Danish environment.
Solid inner markets for recycled plastics within EU
The publication also states that plastic pollution is a global issue that cannot be solved by one nation alone. Cooperation is required, and the government supports the EU plastic initiatives: single plastic ban, design-for-recycling and increased recycling of plastic within the Union.
According to the Danish government, the EU market for plastic recycling should be based on solid industrial demand.
Support from Plastindustrien
The Danish trade organization for plastic industry, Plastindustrien, supports the government’s plan and initiatives. The trade union’s representatives are yet calling for a concrete deadline for the standardization of plastic recycling, and for the forming of a growth panel with the focus on forming new jobs around the new plastic initiatives.
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