The Dutch approach to tackling plastic pollution is ‘disappointingly poor’, Dutch environmental organisations have told junior environment minister Stientje van Veldhoven in a reaction to a draft legislation.
The seven organisations, which were consulted when the bill was being drawn up, said their suggestions had been largely ignored. The cabinet ‘has shown a lack of ambition’ and ‘no extra effort’ has been made, newspaper Trouw quotes the organisations as saying in a letter to the minister. Van Veldhoven’s plans are also short of ideas on re-use of plastics and ‘forget’ the circular economy, they said.
Van Veldhoven’s proposal is a translation of European guidelines on combating plastic pollution into national legislation and concerns a ban on single use plastics, such as plastic cutlery, cotton buds and plastic straws from July 3 next year. It also anchors the responsibility for reducing and re-using plastic packaging with the industry and supermarkets.
‘It’s very disappointing,’ Rob Buurman of Recycling Network Benelux told the paper. The organisations’ main beef with Van Veldhoven is that the agreements made with industry and supermarkets to use less plastic packaging are on a voluntary basis.
‘Our legislation goes no further than what every European country has pledged to do. In the Netherlands the only additional measure is to bring forward the compulsory collection of plastic bottles from 2029 to next year,’ Buurman told the paper.
‘There is a big difference between what the Netherlands says in Europe and what it actually does,’ Buurman said. ‘A ban on plastic stirring sticks and cutlery is not going to tackle the problem of plastic on the streets.’ Buurman said initiatives such as a Belgian project to make cigarette producers pay for the plastic pollution caused by the plastic in their filters would be the way to go.
The organisations also point to last year’s report by the Dutch audit chamber which said Dutch policy is geared towards recycling instead of re-using plastic packaging. That goes against the government’s aim to reach a fully circular system in 2050, the organisations claim.
The organisations also want a deposit on all drinks packaging, including cans. The minister has said deposits will be introduced on small plastic bottles next year, but cans will only be added to the list in 2022 if producers fail to solve the problem themselves.
A spokesman for Van Veldhoven, who is on holiday, told Trouw that the junior minister did include one recommendation made the environmental organisations, focusing on a levy on on-the-go packaging.
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