Products, Plastics & Good Design

To truly tackle the problem of waste we need to address the problem of bad design, superfluous products, toxic plastics and over-consumption. Our ‘Products, Good Design & Plastics’ campaign seeks to prevent the creation of this waste and wasteful products in the first place.

In 2015, our campaign on these issues was developing and expanding, but nevertheless we were able to make a considerable impact and present policy influencing pieces at a number of key moments.

In May, we participated in the Stockholm Convention emphasising the problematic role that the European Union plays in international toxics negotiations. When the EU published new standards for three toxic flame retardant chemicals widely used in building insulation, upholstery and electronics (HBCD, PentaBDE, and OctaBDE), these chemicals listed in the UN Stockholm Convention for global elimination are dangerous endocrine (hormonal system) disruptors and present a threat to the safe recycling of products. In response to this standard, Zero Waste Europe together with Friends of the Earth Europe (FoEE), ChemTrust and the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), called on the EU to  ensure suitable precautions and compliance with chemical waste legislation to ensure that these chemicals are not found in toys or other such products

The 3rd of July saw the sixth International Plastic Bag Free Day, this year with added significance due to the European Directive 2015/720/UE coming into force, to reduce the consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags. The day itself saw incredible actions taking place over five continents. From flash-mobs and trolley races in Hungary, to a large forum exposing to truth about some of the false alternatives to plastic bags, in Manila, Philippines.

The feedback and questions raised as part of the Plastic Bag Free Day fed directly into our development of a position paper on oxo-degradable plastic bags as being incompatible with a zero waste future and misleading in their claim of biodegradability.

With packaging waste making up the most significant aspect of residual waste it is essential to tackle this waste stream by removing excess packaging made from un-recyclable materials. In our analysis of the EC’s proposal for the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive in December, we presented some key recommendations to the Commission on how to set ambitious and feasible targets for reducing packaging waste, which go far beyond their original suggestions.

The area of products, good design and plastics is set to become a key work area for Zero Waste Europe over the next year, with growing attention on the impact of plastic pollution on our oceans and they way in which redesign is an essential aspect of the principles of a circular economy.

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