Brussels, 28.5.2018

SWD(2018) 254 final

COMMISSION STAFF WORKING DOCUMENT

IMPACT ASSESSMENT

Reducing Marine Litter: action on single use plastics and fishing gear

Accompanying the document

Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment

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{SEC(2018) 253 final}
{SWD(2018) 255 final}
{SWD(2018) 256 final}
{SWD(2018) 257 final}


Contents

1.Introduction

2.Problem definition

2.1.The problem

2.1.1.What types of marine litter do we find?

2.1.2.Measuring SUP in item counts versus weight

2.1.3.How big is the contribution of SUP and fishing gear to plastics marine litter?

2.1.4.The impacts of marine litter

2.2.Marine litter pathways and drivers

2.2.1.Most likely pathways

2.2.2.Underlying drivers of the problem

2.2.3.Linking pathways and drivers to the top 10 SUP

2.3.Who is affected, in what ways, and to what extent?

2.4.Current policy framework

2.5.How will the problem evolve?

3.Objectives: What is to be achieved?

4.Why should the EU act?

4.1.Legal Base

4.2.Necessity of EU action and EU added value

4.3.Consistency of these objectives with other EU policies

5.Policy options

5.1.Options and products for detailed analysis

5.1.1.Options not analysed in detail

5.1.2.Prioritisation of sources of marine littering and products for further analysis

5.2.Description of the policy options

5.2.1.Option 1: "baseline scenario"

5.2.2.Set up of new EU level measures to reduce marine litter in options 2 and 3

5.2.3.Sub-option 2a to 2d: Single use plastics

5.2.4.Sub-option 3a to 3b Fishing gear

6.Analysis of impacts

6.1.Types of impacts

6.2.Analysis of Single Use Plastic Sub-options

6.2.1.Approach

6.2.2.Results of the environmental analysis

6.2.3.Results of the economic analysis

6.3.Impacts for Fishing gear sub-options 1 and 3a and 3b

6.3.1.Option 1 – the baseline of no action over and above those already in the pipeline

6.3.2.Option 3a – Medium level of impact

6.3.3.Option 3b – High level of impact

6.3.4.Option 3c – Maximum level of impact

6.3.5.Comparison of Impacts

7.Preferred Option

7.1.Recommended option for SUP

7.2.Recommended option for fishing gear

7.3.Nature of the instrument

8.Monitoring and evaluation

8.1.Monitoring and evaluation arrangements

8.2.Operational objectives

1.Introduction

Plastics play an important role in our economy and daily lives but the way it is currently produced, used and discarded harms the environment. The amount of marine litter in oceans and seas is growing, to the detriment of ecosystems, biodiversity and potentially human health causing widespread concern. At the same time, valuable material that could be brought back into the economy is lost, once littered. The potential economic and environmental benefits of a more resource-efficient and circular approach are not realised. The need to tackle these problems and reduce the environmental, economic and social harm is widely recognised.

Being widely available, persistent and used for applications prone to littering plastic 1 is the main source of marine litter as it is hardly biodegradable and it can have toxic and other harmful impacts. Due to its persistency, these impacts are growing as each year we generate more plastic waste. It is a global problem as acknowledged by many initiatives worldwide 2 but Europe is a source and suffers the impacts.

In addition to harming the environment, marine litter damages activities such as tourism, fisheries and shipping. For instance, the cost of marine litter to EU fisheries is estimated at between 1% 3 and 5% 4 of total revenues from catches by the EU fleet. It threatens food chains, especially seafood.

Europe has a responsibility to deal with its part of the problem and committed to act globally. As part of the Plastics Strategy, the European Commission committed itself to look into further action to address plastic marine litter that builds on the piecemeal efforts underway in EU Member States. The problem of marine litter is transboundary by nature, as litter moves in the marine environment and litter originating from one country can affect another. Joined-up action is needed, also to ensure a single market with high environmental standards and legal certainty for businesses. This Impact Assessment supports a legal initiative aiming to reduce marine litter, as part of a wider approach:

1.This initiative is an integral and complementary part of a much wider, comprehensive approach, namely the Plastics Strategy, the Circular Economy Action Plan and the revised waste legislation.

The Plastics strategy already tackles the design part of the cycle, for example, through a review of the essential requirements of the Packaging Directive. The strategy pushes an ambitious approach for plastic packaging recyclability, in line with our revised waste legislation. It also includes a strong response on microplastics, a significant source of marine pollution. The revised Waste Framework Directive has strengthened general principles and objectives; ambitious 2030 recycling targets for municipal waste and plastic packaging are also set; however these can be reached without in depth efforts on littering or waste prevention.

The legislative initiative that this Impact Assessment accompanies complements all of these actions on design, recycling and microplastics and goes one step further. The main objective is prevention – reducing plastic marine litter of single use plastic and fishing gear e.g. by market restrictions and producers paying for clean-up. As a result, innovation for new business models (such as reuse models), multi-use items or material substitution will be boosted. In cases where marine litter will still occur, the resulting shift from single use plastics to reusable solutions and many natural, untreated alternative materials should lead to a reduced environmental impact. The initiative also tackles lost fishing gear because of its direct pathway to the sea. The main objective here is to incentivise bringing all fishing gear ashore and improve its handling there.

2.It is a targeted and proportionate initiative that directly addresses the two main sources of marine litter in Europe – i) single use plastics and ii) fishing gear. Together, these constitute 84% of plastic marine litter items 5 , among them the most environmentally harmful items in the marine environment. Non-plastic marine litter is often inert (stone) or biodegradable (paper, wood) and thus poses a lower environmental threat.

I.Single use plastics ("SUP"), i.e. plastic packaging or other consumer products made of plastic that are designed to be used once, often away from home, and thrown away after a brief use. These items are particularly litter prone. Single use plastics include small packaging, bags, disposable cups, lids, straws and cutlery. The top 10 most commonly found SUP makes up 86% of all SUP in beach litter and is responsible for more than half of plastic marine litter. This list has been stable in recent years and over different regional seas within Europe. The list is very similar to lists in the US and other countries that consistently find the same SUP in their marine litter. Whilst the dominance of this top 10 is stable, legislation will have a review clause allowing for possible changes in the products or measures covered.

II.Fishing gear (more precisely fishing and aquaculture gear) that is either lost or abandoned, including nets, makes up around a third of beach plastic litter by count and a higher proportion by weight. Abandoned, Lost or Disposed of Fishing Gear (ALDFG) includes:

·larger parts of fishing gear (such as pots and traps, nets, or lines) that are voluntarily abandoned on fishing grounds or accidentally lost due to adverse weather conditions, interactions and conflicts between gear users. These may entangle marine life (“ghost fishing”) (such as pots and traps, nets, or lines) with worn out gear material (netting, lines) voluntarily dumped overboard rather than properly disposed of in port to avoid nuisance or cost related to handling this waste.

·fragments of gear (ropes, nets, etc.) or personal equipment, packaging, monofilament fishing lines, resulting from fragmenting or from normal fishing activities and maintenance of fishing gear and other equipment that are washed or thrown overboard.

·Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs), which are a special category of fishing device, extensively used for tropical tuna fishing, including by EU fleets 6 .

3.Member States are taking national action against single use plastic. France has banned plastic cups and plates, Italy and France are banning plastic cotton buds, the UK wants to ban straws, joined by the Brussels region recently, and other countries like Ireland and Portugal are considering measures. The EU must act now to ensure these diverse actions do not fragment the single market. Businesses need a level playing field, with clarity and legal certainty, and the possibility to develop economies of scale for new markets and alternative materials.

Legal context

In 2015, the Circular Economy Package included proposals modernising the EU waste legislation on which an agreement between the Institutions was reached in December 2017. The new legislation includes general provisions on waste prevention and marine litter.

On 16th January 2018, the Commission adopted the "European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy" 7 which recognises that marine litter remains an issue and that plastic is a significant source of pollution. It sets out, in its action plan, that additional action on fishing gear, including Extended Producers Responsibility and/or deposit schemes will be examined.

The Common Fisheries Policy Control Regulation 8 contains measures on retrieval and reporting on lost fishing gear, as well as the requirement to mark fishing gear. The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) 9 allows Member States to financially support the collection of marine litter as well as invest in port facilities for waste collection.

The Commission's 2018 legislative proposal on port reception facilities 10 includes measures to ensure that waste generated on ships or gathered at sea be returned to land and adequately managed. It refers explicitly to the Commission’s consideration for further action on fishing gear. In spring 2018, the Commission will adopt a proposal for a review of the Fisheries Control System 11 , which will improve the rules on reporting of lost fishing gear, e.g. through the introduction of e-reporting, and on its retrieval.

Public context

The public is sensitive to the environmental impact of plastics. Eurobarometer surveys found that 74% of European citizens are concerned about the impact on their health (74%) and on the environment (87%) of everyday products made of plastics. Documentaries such as A Plastic Ocean 12 or BBC Blue Planet II 13 brought the dimension of this global problem to attention of a wider public. 33% of Europeans identified marine pollution as the most important environmental issue 14 .

The implementation of the Plastic Bag Directive 15 shows that restrictive measures can bring immediate results and public acceptance. Its implementation shows that even small levies on light plastic bags (around 0.10€) can lead to significant reductions in consumption in a short period. In Ireland the introduction of a tax on plastic shopping bags resulted not only in a 90% reduction of plastic bags provided in retail outlets (Convey et al., 2007) but also in a marked decline in bags found on beaches, from an average of 18 plastic bags/500m in 1999 to 5 in 2003 16 .

The public consultation, that took place between December 2017 and February 2018, received more than 1800 contributions and showed that both with the wider public and with stakeholders there is an awareness of the need for action on Single Use Plastics 98.5% of respondents consider that action to tackle single use plastic marine litter is “necessary”, and 95% consider it “necessary and urgent”. More than 70% of manufacturers and more than 80% of brands and recyclers considered action "necessary and urgent". Legal clarity, and investment certainty over a unified single market is essential to all businesses involved in the plastic value chain


2.Problem definition

2.1.The problem 

Marine litter is found on beaches and in the seas. It causes economic, social and environmental damage. The “plastic soup” that forms in the oceans endangers ecosystems and biodiversity and potentially human health; notably through plastics in the food chain. Socioeconomic impacts include clean up and retrieval costs, damage to tourism, shipping, fishing and aquaculture as well as the loss of valuable resources that could be reinjected into the economy. In the North Sea, 93% of the fulmars (marine bird species) analysed have ingested plastics. In a recent EU-funded project, covering the Mediterranean and Northeast Atlantic, 150 turtles have been analysed, 85% of the 120 individuals contained ingested litter, at an average of 1.3 g and 16 items 17 .

While the problem is global, it has a clear European dimension. South East Asia is the largest source of marine litter but Europe is also a significant source, it both suffers the consequences and pollutes other regions including the Artic 18 . Not all marine litter in European seas or beaches originated in the European Union 19 , although European sources are significant (see Annex 3). Plastics are found on all beaches of European Seas. The majority of items found on a beach in Texel, the Netherlands, originated from the Netherlands or neighbouring regions 20 . European countries bordering the Baltic and North Sea are likely to be the origin of plastic found there but, of course, all plastic coming from Europe either ends up in Europe’s waters or in waters elsewhere in the world. Indeed, marine litter can travel large distances, even as far as the Artic 21 .

The problem is marine litter found on beaches, on the seabed and floating. Most plastic floats, but some plastic items, such as fishing nets and bottles, end up at the bottom of the sea. Marine litter moves around thanks to currents, weather and degradation, from seabed to sea surface to beaches. What you see on the beach is a reasonable indicator for what is found at sea (floating and non-floating) as well.

2.1.1.What types of marine litter do we find?

The identification of the origin, pathway and type of marine debris can be difficult, as litter degrades and fragments over time. Some plastics enter the marine environment as ‘macro plastics’ and then degrade slowly into smaller fragments. Others enter directly in the form of microplastics, which are plastic particles with a diameter less than 5mm. Some of these microplastics are intentionally added to products (e.g. scrubbing agents in cosmetics, detergents, paints) or to serve as input for further processing (e.g. plastic resin pellets). Others originate from the abrasion of large plastic objects during manufacturing or use (e.g. tyre dust, textile fibres). The Plastics Strategy already includes specific measures on micro plastics: restrictions through REACH for deliberately added microplastics in products as well as for micro plastics from other sources (tyres, textiles and plastic pellets) 22 . This initiative hence focusses on single use plastics and fishing gear, which are macro-plastics.

Percentage contribution to beach litter can be calculated by item count, weight, volume, or surface area/volume ratio. Beach litter item counts are internationally accepted as a reasonable indicator of the composition of marine litter, and as suitable to inform policy. Similar counts lead to similar results in terms of beach litter composition internationally (notably in US, Australia, Korea, Taiwan, Japan). In the EU, guidance is available 23 to support monitoring and will be further improved by a 2017 Commission Decision on criteria and standards for determining Good Environmental Status 24 .

A representative sample of European beaches was used to establish a database of marine litter from 276 beaches of 17 EU Member States and 4 Regional Seas during the year 2016. The 355.671 items observed are ranked by abundance. Litter on beaches has been monitored for a number of years (for instance more than 10 years in the Northeast Atlantic). Annex 3 contains details, a discussion of the statistical robustness and an analysis of litter found by regional seas.

While there are differences between what is found on beaches and what is found in the seas, the two are linked and available evidence suggests that litter counts on beaches is a reasonable indicator of marine litter in general 25 . In more detail:

·The regional seas analysis suggests that a single list of litter items is suitable for a European policy approach, as opposed to different policy approaches by regional sea. While there is some regional variation, the top ten items-by-count found on beaches changed very little even if rankings differ.

·Counts reflect the potential impact of marine litter as marine species and activities are more affected by the number of items found than by weight (see Section 2.1.2).

The accuracy of beach litter as a proxy for total marine litter in all compartments, floating and non-floating (i.e. beach, surface, water column, sea floor), varies according to the sea and its tides as well as the products and pathways. Depending on ocean currents and beach situation, the coasts accumulate litter from the sea or they act as a reservoir for washed-up litter. Small items resulting from the breakup of fishing gear over time are more likely to end up onshore; large items are more likely to end up on the sea floor. Some plastic sinks, and then can reappear due to tides and currents. Seafloor samples show higher proportions of fishing gear than is found on beaches, particularly those with little tidal range. Beach litter is therefore a better indicator for the types of SUP litter than for sea-based activities but is reasonable for both.

2.1.2.Measuring SUP in item counts versus weight

Measuring by item counts is the chosen option for this Impact Assessment, as it is the best indicator for the overall environmental, social and economic impacts. However, no type of measurement is perfectly correlated with all the different types of impacts:

·Environmental impacts are varied, from harm to wildlife by entanglement and ingestion, harm to ecosystems through smothering, abrasion and the spread of invasive species, and effects on the movement of persistent organic pollutants (POP) within and between habitats as well as in the food chain. The number of items is fairly closely related to ingestion by marine fauna (fish, birds, reptiles, some mammals), as well as microplastic generation in the short term (many smaller items with a larger surface area to volume ratio will wear and degrade faster – over years and decades - than dense items of large mass).

·For fishery related items harm is caused by "incidents" i.e. encounters between wildlife and lost fishing gear. Therefore, the number of fishing gear litter items is of relevance. Of course, a bigger net can cause more harm. While there is still little information about seafloor litter, the available trawling data from areas surveyed by video 26 confirm the existence of litter in the deepest areas and at locations very remote from land.

·Measuring by count is a reasonable way to indicate the impact on tourism: the aesthetic disturbance by litter, related to the acceptance by tourists, does not depend on the individual litter properties (with some exceptions, if particularly unhygienic or dangerous) but more on the number of visible items.

Tonnage of items is best correlated with the generation of microplastics over the long term (hundreds of years) and subsequent ingestion at all levels of the food chain including the lower levels such as invertebrates, with the associated POP related impacts. Additionally, the quantitative units listed above do not capture other features, such as shape (ability to lacerate, trap or entangle), location of emissions (whether item also has accrued terrestrial litter impacts) or likelihood of ingestion (related in turn to shape, colour and material type), which cannot be easily in an objective way.

While item counts are opted for in this Impact Assessment, analysis was also undertaken to explore the data using weights, rather than counts. Doing so, plastic marine litter is dominated by a few heavy multi-use sources such as tyres, shoes, and car parts. Those items would require a different policy approach as some of it is related to negligence, and some rather to deliberate waste dumping in the sea, for which better enforcement of existing legislation would be the appropriate response.

The analysis also needs to be seen in the perspective of the overall figures on plastics marine litter, as shown in the Table below 27 . Microplastics form a major part (in weight) of plastics marine litter. Concentrations are increasing, but there is no overall mass balance of transfers between coasts, rivers, shipping and the sea on a European or global scale. Microplastics are tackled by specific actions under the Plastics Strategy (as discussed in Section 2.4).

The focus of this initiative is on the approximately 27,000 tonnes of plastic from fishing gear and SUP that enter the marine environment each year. This focus has been chosen, because SUP are:

·The source of plastics marine litter that the existing legislation in its current form does not address fully, and so there is a legislative gap; and

·Highly harmful to environment, with a significant negative social and economic impact; a mere weight-based approach would not demonstrate this harm and impact.

·Abandoned and discarded fishing gear is highly harmful.

·Current and proposed legislation and other measures covering fishing gear 28 presuppose more targeted measures, including the development of an appropriate waste as well as reuse/recycle stream adapted to its specific characteristics.

Table 1. Estimations of weight of marine plastics litter, per year, per source, in the EU

Plastics marine litter

Tons

Source

Total

150.000 – 450.000

Eunomia (2016), based on Jambeck et al. (2015) 29

·Microplastics

75.000 – 300.000

Eunomia (2018), published

·Macroplastics:

-Single use plastics

15.600

Eunomia (2018), in preparation

-Fishing gear

11.000

See annex 7

2.1.3.How big is the contribution of SUP and fishing gear to plastics marine litter?

Plastics makes up 80-85% of marine litter by count. The non-plastic part (15-20%) is often inert (e.g. construction material) or biodegradable (e.g. paper, wood) and therefore has a lower environmental impact. About half of identifiable plastic pieces are ‘single use plastics’ (e.g. crisps packets, cotton bud sticks etc.).

Of the plastic part, around 30% remains unidentified, but probably has a similar composition as the identifiable part. This means that that SUP makes up around half of all beach litter items counted. Plastics from fishing gear makes up another 27% of marine litter items.

Figure 1. Composition of Marine Litter (items)

Source: Eunomia, based on JRC data

The top 10 most found of the SUP are 86% of the number of all SUP items found on the beaches (which can be expressed as 43% of all marine litter or half of all the plastic items). This approach thus excludes only 14% of the SUP items. Adding more items, would mean chasing very small sources: number 11on the list is shotgun cartridges. The way and methodology for the aggregation of the items are extensively explained and discussed in Annex 3. Also, looking at items 11 onwards, they are not just small in count and so in environmental damage potential, but a number of them do not have clear alternatives available making policy responses less obvious. To refer to a limited list of items (Top 10) also makes it easier to communicate the relevant policy measure to the public. The categories of SUP listed in Table 2 below are the basis of further analysis.

Table 2. Sampling numbers of top ten SUP items

Ranking

Item

Total number

1

Drinks bottles, caps and lids

24,541

2

Cigarette butts

21,854

3

Cotton buds sticks

13,616

4

Crisp packets / sweet wrappers

10,952

5

Sanitary applications

9,493

6

Plastic bags

6,410

7

Cutlery, straws and stirrers

4,769

8

Drinks cups and cup lids

3,232

9

Balloons and balloon sticks

2,706

10.

Food containers including fast food packaging

2,602

The Public Consultation 30 demonstrated that public concern about plastic items is closely aligned with the top 10 list. Concern was expressed for all items, but with priority given to caps and lids, drinks bottles, cups and straws.

Figure 2. Responses to the Question – For each type of plastic litter, and fishing gear, “to what extent do you agree that action should be taken to reduce their presence in the environment?”

Marine litter from sea-based activities is also significant. Any plastic waste lost from marine transport, offshore platforms, recreation, fishing or aquaculture will enter the marine environment 31 . The Impact Assessment 32 for the revision of the Directive on Port Reception Facilities 33 found that much waste from ships, including fishing vessels and recreational craft, that should be delivered to ports is not (up to 30%) and may end up being discharged at sea. The greater part however comes from fishing and aquaculture. This is reflected in the largest single category of beach litter items being strings and cords, which largely come from fishing gear.

The proportion of items from sea-based activities on beaches with strong tides 34 is higher, suggesting that the proportion in the water may be even higher. An analysis of what has been brought up in fishing nets in western Atlantic and the Baltic indicates equal numbers of items coming from fishing as from single used plastics. The majority of plastic found in Arctic waters derives from fishing 35 .

Figure 3. Density of plastic items per unit area from fishing as proportion of the total number from single use plastics and fishing gear 

Source: ICES DATRAS database and analysed by EMODnet

A complementary approach to beach counts and counts following retrieval actions from the sea floor was to calculate the fishing gear contribution to waste and to marine litter based on sector statistics based on production statistics from the PRODCOM database and sampling. The total loss of plastic waste (netting and non-netting) from fishing gear and aquaculture is estimated at 11,000 tonnes per year (see annex 7). For comparison, the input from single use plastics are estimated at 15,604 tonnes per annum.

Finally, plastic pollution is also found in freshwater and soil. Riverine litter is a contributor to marine litter: the available evidence shows strong similarities in the composition 36 .

How future proof is this selection – consistency over time and place

The top 10 SUP items are the ones that are consistently found in beach counts in Europe, over recent years and over the different seas. In the various samples, the exact number of counts and order within the top 10 might change, but not the top 10 as such.

Currently at EU level, only one specific SUP item is regulated, namely plastic bags, through the Plastic Bags Directive. At Member State level, most of the items that are (or are planned to be) regulated are part of the top 10. The notable exception is plastic plates, which counts for only 0,02% of the items found on beaches and is not seen as significant at the EU level.

Table 3. Items examined or addressed in Member States or regions

Member State/Region

Item

France

Cups, glasses, plates, cotton buds

Italy

Cotton buds

Italy

Cigarette buds

Scotland

Cotton Buds

Scotland

Straws

Spain – Balearic Islands

Single use consumer plastics, e.g. cups, plates, cutlery, straws; wet wipes, bottles

Brussels region

Straws

Ireland

Single use plastics: coffee cups, plastic cutlery etc.

An American study 37 found broadly the same list of items. The authors argue that action should be focused on this list, as these are the plastic applications that cause the most harm in America. Of the EU Top 10 only plastic cotton buds are not found in the US list, as these products are mainly made of hard paper in the American market (and thus are biodegradable).

A comparison of actions taken globally shows a diverse list, but most items from the EU Top 10 are included, in particularly plastic bags, cutlery, wipes and food containers (sometimes referred to Styrofoam or Polystyrene), straws, cups. The list of items addressed around the world (Annex 3, Section 4.1.4) is thus similar to the EU Top 10. Ultimately, the top 10 list of items found through beach counting, seabed trawling etc. will change due to the actions that will be taken. Some items should disappear, which would be a sign of success. The upcoming legislation will foresee the possibility to evaluate the effectiveness of the measures taken and the items that are recorded as marine litter on our beaches. In order to be future-proof, the legislator can then change the list of items, actions or targets as necessary (see Section 8). Similarly, it is important that legislation avoids regrettable substitution, hence the need to closely follow scientific and technical developments to understand when it will be possible to develop clear criteria for marine biodegradability.

2.1.4.The impacts of marine litter

Marine plastic litter persists in the environment, and there is a continuous build-up. It is not possible to remove all the marine litter as the seas and oceans have a combined surface of 350 million km² and a volume of 1.300 million km³. Marine litter harms the economy, society and environment in different ways. UN Environment estimated the total natural capital cost to marine ecosystems of plastic littering damage at USD 13 billion per year 38 .

The JRC Report on “Harm caused by marine litter” (2016), summarises the impacts as: “Marine litter impacts organisms at different levels of biological organization and habitats in a number of ways namely: through entanglement in, or ingestion of, litter items by individuals, resulting in death and/or severe suffering; through chemical and microbial transfer; as a vector for transport of biota and by altering or modifying assemblages of species. Marine litter is a threat not only to marine species and ecosystems but also carries a risk to human health and has significant implications to human welfare, impacting negatively vital economic sectors such as tourism, fisheries, aquaculture or energy supply and bringing economic losses to individuals, enterprises and communities.”

There is a consensus amongst all stakeholders that something needs to be done, with a majority believing that the issue is urgent (see Figure 4).

Figure 4. Answers in open stakeholder consultation to question "Please indicate whether you think action to address the amount of marine litter (including fishing gear) in the seas and on beaches is:"

2.1.4.1.Economic impacts

Marine litter damages business in economic sectors such as tourism, fisheries, aquaculture, navigation and energy as well as the respective local communities.

Figure 5. “Logical Diagram of Impact”

Source: JRC, 2016, “Harm caused by marine litter”

The economic impact on the most obvious affected sectors is described below:

·Fisheries and aquaculture

oThe removal of litter from nets, as well as the damage caused to the catches themselves can lead to a significant reduction of catches, as well as time and costs associated with repairing fishing gear damaged by marine litter; entangled propellers and obstructed cooling systems. Lost or abandoned fishing gear can continue to fish ("ghost fishing"). This can lead to a direct catch reduction in its vicinity and, cumulatively, the risk to reduce affected fish stocks' abundance. Furthermore, litter near fishing grounds and aquaculture cages can damage the image of the seafood produced. At the European level, Acoleyen et al. (2013) estimated that the costs due to damage and losses reaches approximately €61.7 million, equivalent to a reduction of nearly 1% of the total revenue generated by the EU fleet in 2010. Other sources 39 put the level at 5%.

·Shipping and ports

oMarine litter and ALDFG can create navigation hazards that can cause accidents at sea, damage boats and pose a threat to navigation safety e.g., through blockages of ship propellers and entanglement of divers.

oOver 71% of harbours and marinas surveyed in the UK reported that their users had experienced incidents such as fouled propellers, fouled anchors, fouled rudders and blocked intake pipes and valves. Marine litter costs the ports and harbours industry in the UK around €2.4 million each year (implying costs for the EU as a whole of around €30 million each year).

·Clean-up activities. Targeted clean-ups of floating marine litter or litter deposited on the sea- floor are restricted to scattered initiatives and programmes. These are, in most cases, voluntary-based or funded by private entities, local authorities 40 or the EU. For example, the current European Maritime and Fisheries Fund envisages the investment of €22 million for support of fishing for litter operations over the period 2014 to 2020. In comparison to the previous funding period, the number of Member States planning ‘fishing for litter’ operations doubled compared to those undertaken in the European Fisheries Fund. The number of planned operations increased by 130% and the planned EU funding by 320%.

·Coastal communities and tourism. There are economic costs to coastal municipalities in the form of the costs of keeping beaches clear of litter and its wider implications for tourism and recreation, as litter puts tourists off from visiting and from sea-based activities. Acoleyen et al. (2013) estimated that cleaning costs for the more than 50,000 kilometres of EU coastline amounted between approximately €194 and €630 million.

·Long term impacts. The damage to economic activities and the livelihoods of communities are known to a certain extent. However, the unknown unknowns are of far more concern. The long-term year-by-year accumulation of material in all levels of the food web poses an existential threat to these activities and these communities. There are about 150,000 fishermen in Europe. Another 60,000 people work in aquaculture and 120,000 in processing. Many more are employed in the retail and restaurant trades. Consumer concerns could cause major disruption well before the actual damage to human health is known as was shown when unfounded suspicion that Spanish cucumber was responsible for e-coli deaths in Germany caused Spanish farmers to lose $256 million 41 .

2.1.4.2.Environmental and human health impacts of plastic marine litter

The impacts of plastic marine debris on the environment and human health are well documented and can be structured according to the size of the plastic litter 42 , as explained in detail in Annex 3.

·Impacts of macroplastics (i.e. pieces of plastics larger than 5mm): ingestion, entanglement, "ghost" fishing, decreased biodiversity, sea floor pollution;

·Impacts of microplastics (i.e. pieces of plastics smaller than 5mm): ingestion or absorption, impact nanoparticles;

·Impacts of toxic substances associated with plastic debris: chemical toxicity, persistent organic pollutants

As explained above, the impact will be related with different features of the plastic waste such as weight, shape, location of emissions or likelihood of ingestion which are difficult to determine. There is no specific literature available yet that differentiates the impacts of the different items under examination in this impact assessment.

However, as all the items are frequently littered, their overall impact will be important. The model used calculates (table 27 of Annex 6) that the total amount of littering of the top 10 SUP items would be almost 7 billion items in 2030. Even the smallest group within the top 10 SUP, would be littered several million times in the European Seas. As an illustration, the smallest of the categories, stirrers, is still estimated to be contributing 17 million items a year in 2018, rising to 20 million in 2030, to the marine environment. Scenario 2c is modelled to reduce the 2030 estimate by 3.6-3.8 billion items. While these are modelled figures and should be carefully considered, they give an idea of the order of magnitude.

Whilst the impact of plastic marine litter is acknowledged, it is not possible to establish impacts for individual litter categories in a statistical way. For example, evidence may come from birds found dead on beaches or from turtles. Each of the Top 10 SUP items has been found to cause harm: besides monitoring of birds and turtles, there is anecdotal and empirical evidence (e.g. observations and photos), Moreover:

·only a small sample of incidents end up being visible on the beach;

·the identification of source can be difficult because of weathering and fragmentation, and so studies tend to report plastic more generally and not by type of item 43 .

A survey of 340 academic papers produced the following summary of impacts on 693 species. 44 Notably, the debris categories were wider:

·Plastic: Rope and netting, other fishing materials, intact items and packaging, fragments, microplastic,

·Paper,

·Glass,

·Metal,

·Other,

·Unknown.

The result is that it is not possible to provide a statistical analysis of the relative harm caused by each of the Top 10 SUP items individually. An item may make up 5% of plastic marine litter, but it is not possible to say whether it causes more or less than 5% of harm; whilst it is possible to state that it accounts for a share of the overall harm. Given that even the least found items are found in their millions in the oceans, it seems reasonable to state that they are sufficiently harmful to warrant further analysis.

Figure 6. Impact of various debris on marine life

Source: Gall and Thompson, 2015

There are however many cases where impacts have been demonstrated for specific items. For example: a case of a turtle having ingested a drinking straw which then became lodged in the animal’s nostril 45 ; a case of a plastic fork having been ingested by a turtle 46 , 47 ; the review of items found in whale stomachs, including bags, drinks cups, plastic caps as well as a host of other items 48 ; images of Midway Island albatross 49 with plastic caps easily identifiable amongst ingested items; examples of balloon remnants found in fulmar stomachs 50 . These all demonstrate that even larger items are directly ingested whole in some circumstances.

It is therefore possible, on the basis of available literature and monitoring, to conclude that there is a differentiation in the degree of harm from each item. Table 1 reflects the impacts of the targeted top 10 items. Ultimately plastic macro litter, if it remains long in the sea, becomes microplastics, which facilitates ingestion by marine animals and entry in the food chain, as well as the release of chemicals. Aside the environmental impacts, there are also impacts on tourism (e.g. landscape degradation) and on the fisheries industry (e.g. litter removal, entanglement of propellers, ghost fishing, material loss through nets encountering).

Table 4. Assessment of the impacts of top 10 items

Entanglement of marine wildlife

Ingestion by marine animal

Pollution of marine waters (chemicals release, microplastics)

Transport of invasive species (rafting)

Microbial contamination

Economic impacts on tourism

Economic impacts on fisheries

Potential human health impacts

Drinks bottles & caps

+

++

+

+++

+++

+++

+

+

Cigarette butts

-

+++

+++

+++

+++

++

++

+

Cotton buds sticks

-

+++

+

+++

+++

++

+

+

Crisp packets

+

+++

+

+++

+++

+++

++

+

Sanitary applications

+

++

++

+++

+++

+++

++

+

Plastic bags

+++

+++

+

+++

+++

+++

+++

+

Cutlery, straws & stirrers

+

+++

+

+++

+++

++

+

+

Drinks cups & lids

+

++

+

+++

+++

+++

+

+

Balloons & sticks

+

+++

+

+++

+++

+

+

+

Food containers

++

++

+

+++

+++

+++

++

+

Fishing gear

+++

++

++

+++

+++

+++

+++

+

Current evidence strongly suggests that, in addition to its impact on ecosystems, plastic marine litter constitutes a public health issue. Human beings could be exposed to micro- and nanoplastics in different ways, including through the food chain. The risk to human health will be further examined by ECHA following the mandate, given by the Commission, to prepare a REACH dossier on microplastics intentionally added to products.

2.1.4.3.Natural resources and waste impacts

The design, production and use of single use plastic contributes to the depletion of natural resources and the increase of waste. This inefficiency of the current production, consumption and disposal patterns is reflected in the loss of valuable resources (e.g. between €70 and €105 billion of plastic packaging value lost to the global economy annually 51 ). The continued use of oil as feedstock for plastics production complicates the efforts to phase out fossil fuel production and extraction and the emission of CO2 linked to production and incineration of plastics (approximately 400 million tonnes of CO2 a year globally) 52 . The inappropriate disposal of single use plastics is a further problem in this regard since a relevant percentage is not recycled nor easily recyclable.

Disposal and end-of-life treatment of fishing gear is low. The level of recycling in the EU is 53 1 to 5%, low when compared to rates in countries such as Iceland and Norway 54 .

2.2.Marine litter pathways and drivers

2.2.1.Most likely pathways 

Marine litter has a source (i.e. the sector or activity leading to marine litter), a means of release (i.e. reason for not being properly captured by waste management infrastructure), and a pathway and transport mechanism (i.e. means by which it enters the marine environment). To understand the terminology and provide an example, a cotton bud stick may be flushed down the toilet (means of release) by consumers (source) and enter the marine environment through the wastewater release system (pathway) 55 . Depending on the level of treatment but also on the organisation of the wastewater collection network, plastics could be captured or not 56 . Annex 3 includes a table with details for different types, and Figure 6 summarises this.

Figure 7. Multiple sea- and land-based sources pathways

It is recognised that:

·Two distinct actions contribute to marine litter originating from SUP, namely the purchase of plastic items, and the actual littering. Changing these two actions will require different policy responses, such as market interventions for the former and behavioural interventions for the latter.

·The amount of marine litter is proportional to the amount of plastics produced, placed on the market and purchased, all things equal.

·Often buying plastics is not a deliberate decision by consumers. The purchase is determined by the easy availability and low cost of plastics and by the absence of alternatives. Some SUP are provided to consumers free. Therefore, a combination of a trend towards (on-the-go) convenience, lack of incentives to collect items after use, limited collection infrastructure (e.g. bins) and uncivil consumer behaviour contributes to littering.

Streams and rivers are a common pathway of land-based litter into the ocean. The available data are very approximate (estimates for riverine litter in Europe range from 500 to 20 000 tonnes annually 57 to 9,300 tonnes 58 and 10,500 tonnes 59 ). Currently, Member States are not obliged to take measures against litter in surface waters. In any case, it is technically not possible to install a fine enough mesh screen to stop a cotton bud stick, without affecting economic activities and ecosystems at the same time.

2.2.2.Underlying drivers of the problem

The underlying drivers are complex, with several factors leading to the current situation:

·Wide availability of plastic as a cheap and convenient option: the purchase of plastics is often easy and convenient, with only few and/or less convenient alternative options available. In the case of fishing and aquaculture, plastic materials have been essential in reducing production costs, improving product quality and hygiene as well as producers' health and security.

·Consumer trend for convenience: We live in a throwaway society, where convenience is valued highly and an on the go trend favours convenient single use plastics. The result is increased consumption of short-lived or disposable items rather than reusable alternatives, even where they exist and are environmentally preferable.

·Market fragmentation: Member States are taking individual initiatives, notably to limit the access to the market of some problematic products, which will lead to a fragmentation of the European market (see the chapter on the "Current policy framework").

·Market failure: The externalities of litter in the environment are not internalised into the costs of single use plastic items. This is one of the reasons why there is limited economic incentive to develop or choose items with a better environmental footprint. The cost of collection and transport of end-of-life fishing nets can be reduced or spread out more evenly if organised with the involvement of materials producers, as well as on a regional or national basis. At present that cost is mostly left to the ports, of which there are hundreds in the EU – this is particularly relevant in a sector where both ports, and the operators in the sector are often small-scale, with some ports’ activities either overly dependent on or even exclusively limited to fishing. In short, under current and currently proposed legislation the cost is borne by ports and shippers/fishers, not by the producing sector.

·Lack of market incentives for the effective participation in separate collection (such as ‘pay as you throw’ schemes) or for the return of (beverage) containers in the form of deposit return schemes. These schemes lead to less marine litter by encouraging better waste management, are currently limited to a minority of EU countries. It also relates to complex products or packaging formats not designed for recyclability. Despite the removal of financial penalties for fishermen to bring gear ashore under the proposed revision of the Port Reception Facilities Directive, the effects of paying even indirect fees may not be sufficient as an incentive to completely exclude disposing of damaged gear at sea if storage space on board is at a premium. In addition, as the negotiations in the context of the recent proposal for the PRF Directive demonstrate, there is a significant risk that the obligation to set-up additional port reception facilities, in smaller or fisheries dependent fishing ports in particular, will lead to an increase of overall port fees.

·Poor waste management infrastructure: e.g. insufficient number of bins, or infrequent emptying (especially in tourism hotspots during high season), or, improper treatment of waste which then ends up as marine litter (for example, plastics released through storm overflow basins). Despite the potential value of some of the fishing gear, recycling is very limited and left to a few innovative operators. There is currently at EU level, no structured approach to setting up specific mechanisms or tackling the costs of dealing with fishing gear containing plastic once landed in port.

·Consumer behaviour: Consumer behaviour contributes to marine litter through the purchase of plastics (especially SUP), and the act of littering. For some plastic products, citizens have little knowledge whether they will end up as marine litter or whether they are made of plastic that will not bio-degrade in the environment. For example, most people who throw away a cigarette stub do not know that the filter is made of plastic (rather than paper), and people flushing a cotton bud down a toilet probably assume it will either degrade or be captured in the wastewater treatment. Fishers may be not fully aware of the long lifetime and lasting impact of gear lost at sea.

·Potential harm of marine litter and associated slow disintegration of plastics: Plastics is harmful for the environment, as discussed in Annex 3 (Sections 2.13 and 2.14 in particular). Biodegradation in the marine environment is particularly challenging. For the time being, there is no recognised method to test biodegradation of plastic in the extremely varied conditions of the coastal and marine environment.

·Abandoned or discarded fishing gear: Even though full implementation of existing rules such as MARPOL or the EU Control Regulation would imply that fishing gear should not be abandoned or discarded intentionally, there is evidence that this is happening at a significant scale, including because of lack of incentives to handle gear waste differently. This is mostly an issue of cost, of the burden of bringing broken gear back, and of retrieving lost gear. Given the near-impossibility of controlling whether gear is discarded or abandoned, improving on this issue is considered to be mostly a question of enhancing compliance through incentives and/or facilitation.

·Accidental loss of fishing gear: Gear conflict, adverse weather, vandalism and theft may result in loss of gear. Gear conflict is the contact of passing vessels with active or even passive gear. Re-locating gear at sea can be difficult because of damage by marine organisms, gear becoming snagged, removal of marker buoys and entanglement. Even though loss of fishing gear in good shape is a significant financial loss, which fishermen try to avoid, retrieving accidentally lost gear, whilst required by the EU Fisheries Control Regulation 60 , may be perceived as too time and cost intensive.

·Lack of standardised monitoring, retrieval and locating systems. Fishermen from different flag states fish in the same waters. Information exchange and cooperation of authorities to effectively target and retrieve their lost gear is lacking. The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund promotes and supports the retrieval of lost gear, but not all countries take up this option in their operational programmes.

·Fishing gear is expensive to recycle: Fishing gear is often built-up material that needs to be dismantled before entering waste management or recycling. Resources are not made available for the dismantling, cleaning, and sorting needed before recycling. The few existing recycling facilities in, for example, Denmark, Lithuania and Slovenia, are running below capacity. The Icelandic and Norwegian experience with EPR-type and take-back schemes show that dedicated schemes can lead to fairly high recycling rates to the benefit of the economy in general and the fishing industry 61 in particular.

2.2.3.Linking pathways and drivers to the top 10 SUP 

A central issue is the understanding of the pathways and drivers for each of the ten SUP items. While it is not always easy to estimate exactly the pathway of each item of marine litter, we have a relative good general view.

·For items like cotton bud sticks, wet wipes and sanitary napkins, improper flushing is the main problem. Items that are improperly flushed could benefit from a targeted information campaign or a better information display on the product to explain consumers that these items should not be flushed and that if they are, they cause considerable harm to marine life.

·For items such as food containers, drink bottles, cutlery/straws, food containers and drink cups, poor waste management is the main pathway. A main driver is the on-the-go consumption of food product and the demand for more convenience.

·Cigarette butts are mostly littered due to uncivil behaviour. There are consumers, who might reduce their littering, if they know that butts are made of plastic.

·Balloons and balloon sticks are let floating in the open air, and land in nature.

Table 5. Drivers and Pathways for SUP items

Item

Underlying drivers

Pathways

Availability of plastic as cheap convenient option

Consumer trend for convenience

Market failure

Low levels of collection and recycling

Poor infrastructure

Consumer behaviour

Disposal in toilet and insufficient waste water treatment and sewage management

Littering

Poor waste management

Drinks bottles

++

++

++

++

+

+

++

++

Cigarette butts

++

+

+

++

+

++

Cotton bud sticks

+

+

++

++

++

+

Crisps packets

++

++

+

++

++

Sanitary applications

+

+

+

+

++

+

Plastic Bags

+

++

+

+

++

++

+

Cutlery, straws & stirrers

++

+

+

++

++

++

Drinks cups & lids

+

++

+

+

+

++

++

+

Balloons & sticks

++

+

++

+

+

Food containers

+

++

+

+

+

++

+

++

Note: if there is a non-plastic alternative, then availability of plastic as cheap convenient option will be ranked low; market failure is scored highly if markets could play more of a part by reflecting the environmental damage; low levels of recycling is scored highly if recycling could play more of a part; poor infrastructure relates to whether if properly disposed of, it still finds its way on to beaches. Source: based on JRC Technical Reports.

2.3.Who is affected, in what ways, and to what extent?

EU citizens: Citizens are affected by marine litter, in terms of unsustainable resource consumption and the pollution of marine environments that lead to death of marine life, loss of fish stocks, degradation of landscapes, contamination of the food chain and public health impacts. EU citizens also bear the costs of collection, treatment and cleaning up of waste. The public consultation, that received more than 1800 contributions, shows that marine litter is a significant concern. Recent Eurobarometer surveys found that 74% of European citizens are concerned about the impact on their health (74%) and on the environment (87%) of everyday products made of plastics.

Non-EU citizens: Marine litter from Europe or European producers affects citizens in countries outside the EU due to the cross-border nature of pollution and marine littering.

Fishing industry: The pollution of the sea affects the marine ecosystem and results in losses in fishing stocks, for example due to 'ghost fishing', which translates into a loss of 'raw material' for the fishing industry as well as loss of fishing time and extra costs due to damaged equipment and security and navigation hazards. Accumulation of plastics in the food chain could become detrimental to the image of the products of the seas. The lack of dedicated mechanisms across the EU to manage fishing gear waste mean that disposing of waste gear is seen as a burden for fishers rather than part of the normal lifecycle of a product, the burden of which is shared across all relevant parts of the value chain, from producer to end-user. The PRF Directive goes some way in tackling the problem, but on balance is likely, without additional measures, to lead to extra cost for fishers at least in some cases.

Public authorities are affected by the increased costs and administrative burden associated with littering (cleaning operations on roads, beaches, in cities, in the neighbourhood of fast food restaurants, etc.) as well as enforcement of prevention measures and treatment costs.

Tourism industry and local businesses: Littering incurs an aesthetic cost to society, which can affect local businesses, especially the coastal tourism industry as it makes beaches and marine environments less attractive recreational destinations. This may have dramatic consequences for territories basing their development on tourism, such as many EU islands. 

Brands: As the issue of marine litter is of a significant concern for people, brands suffer from reputational damage when their products (including packaging) are found on beaches and in the aquatic environment. NGOs target specific brands through marine litter campaigns. 

Plastics industry: The plastics industry image is damaged by marine litter, and the public opinion on plastics in general is becoming negative, which could affect (or at least dampen the increase in) demand for SUP and plastic products in general, exemplified by " no-plastic" campaigns, which reach a growing number of citizens. In absence of effective solutions, countries inside or outside the European Union are increasingly considering or even applying radical approaches often detrimental to the plastic industry.

Plastics recyclers: Marine litter represents a loss of valuable resources. These specific plastic items could have turned into secondary raw materials. It therefore affects the European plastic value chain, in particular recyclers due to the non- resource efficient approach for these specific plastic items. This is particularly noticeable in the fishing gear context, where appropriate mechanisms to organise treatment and recycle or reuse of gear material are not frequent, which contributes to low recycling rates of what is often very high quality material.

2.4.Current policy framework

Marine litter has long been recognised as a problem. Over the years, a number of measures and obligations relating to marine litter have been integrated into the policy framework related to water and marine policy, to waste and product policy as well as to Common Fisheries. These policies target different pathways but are fragmented in terms of focus and ambition. They do not specifically target the ten most littered items and mostly contain only general measures. Consequently, they have not had the necessary impact on preventing or reducing marine litter. The recently adopted Plastics Strategy highlights the gaps in the current legal and policy framework to tackle marine litter. Annex 5 sets this out in more detail.

The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) requires Member States to reach Good Environmental Status (GES) by 2020. Marine litter is one of the eleven descriptors for which, wherever feasible, ‘threshold values’ are developed. Member States have to provide Programmes of Measures to make sure that GES will be met on time. These programmes are broad as they tackle all pressures on marine waters. A first ongoing assessment shows that they provide a useful overview of the actions undertaken or planned, but that additional, more concrete actions are needed to reach Good Environmental Status. Given the propensity of litter, like other contaminants, to be carried by wind, currents and tide, the problem is transboundary in nature and co-operation between countries is necessary. Given that this does not happen on its own, EU action and support is needed to ensure a coherent and comprehensive approach.

Other legislation tackles specific pathways, such as the urban wastewater treatment directive (UWWTD) which is currently being evaluated and is relevant because some items (e.g. improperly flushed) might be captured or not depending on the organisation of the wastewater collection system and the level of treatment applied. One of the limitations of this Directive relates to the requirements on capture and treatment of the storm waters overflows, which would need to be re-considered.

Waste legislation has a role in ensuring waste is collected and treated. Ambitious recycling targets for municipal waste (65% by 2030) and plastic packaging waste (55% by 2030) will increase capture of plastic waste. However, whilst Member States will need to improve their collection systems to achieve those targets they can reach them without in depth efforts to prevent littering. Moreover, the provisions in the revised Packaging Directive on waste prevention are more general in nature, e.g. an obligation to "encourage" reuse of packaging. Fully applying and enforcing waste legislation will therefore not solve the problem, as there will still be littering and leakage of plastics into the environment. A more detailed assessment of the gaps in the existing legal framework can be found in Section 5.2.1.

So far, the only product-focussed legal instrument specifically tackling a SUP item, the Plastic Bags Directive, has been a success in reducing consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags, while reducing related environmental impacts and stimulating reuse. Building on the success of this directive a similar, targeted, approach is now adopted for a wide range of other, specific single-use plastic products, which, like plastic bags, constitute the most littered items in the Union beaches. The measures identified in the Plastic Bags Directive (a consumption reduction target and economic instruments) are part of the preferred option of this initiative. The preferred option goes beyond these measures for some products, where good substitutes exist, by fully restricting their market access.

All of the Top 10 SUP items share with plastic bags the characteristic that if not littered (generally on land with a proportion then being transported into the seas) or improperly disposed of through sewers (such as flushed down the toilet), they would not end up as marine litter. Anti-littering policies are well established, as is an anti-littering culture, but the evidence suggests that littering will continue and that there are limits to enforcement of anti-littering / improper flushing policies including behavioural policies to shift cultures.

As part of the Circular Economy Action Plan, an aspirational target to reduce marine litter by 30% was adopted by the Commission in 2015. This objective was subsequently endorsed by the Council, but it was not linked to specific measures and obligations.

Waste from fishing gear is regulated through a range of EU instruments; most of them are currently under revision in the legislative process. They tackle some of the problem drivers for abandoned and lost fishing gear but leave gaps in several respects. The following instruments apply:

·Proposed revision of the Port Reception Facilities Directive 62 . This sets out a number of measures to tackle marine littering caused by fishing gear:

oIntroducing a 100% indirect fee for garbage from ships, including derelict fishing gear, as well as passively fished waste, thereby reducing disincentives stemming from port fees to bring back fished up waste ashore. However, if the total amount of waste brought ashore increases, the charge to all fishing vessels will also increase, particularly in small fishing ports with few or no existing facilities. No compensation for potential increases in port fees due to the need to set up new or significantly extended port reception facilities is envisaged.

oRequiring Member States to improve port reception facilities for waste from ships. However, the proposed Directive does not envisage setting-up separate fishing gear collection and treatment streams for recovery of valuable material used in fishing gear for recycling.

oFinally, in the Commission's proposal it was underlined that "additional measures for reducing lost or abandoned fishing gear are examined, such as extended producer responsibility and deposit-refund schemes for commonly littered fishing gear" 63 .

·The planned review of the Fisheries Control Regulation 64 :

oRequires to mark gear (Article 8) 65 , to carry retrieval equipment on board, to retrieve lost gear or to report its loss in case it cannot be retrieved (Article 48). The planned revision will introduce daily electronic reporting for all vessels and remove the exemption of small vessels from the obligation to carry retrieval equipment; it does not deal with the port side aspects of returning gear, nor provide any incentives to improve on the rate of    abandonment of gear itself.

·European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) 66

o2014-2020: 108 operations to support the removal of litter from the sea are included in authorities' operational programmes. Infrastructure improvements at ports and community led local development projects can also lead to more appropriate trreatment of marine litter although it is not possible to determine the level of funding envisaged. Post 2020: It is envisaged, in line with the Commission's Plastics Strategy, to make marine litter a funding priority under the new programming period, which could include support for the costs schemes to manage treat and recycle fishing gear material.

At the international level, the FAO voluntary Guidelines on the Marking of Fishing Gear adopted in February 2018 are expected to be endorsed in July 2018 and then implemented.

The recently adopted Plastics Strategy highlights the gaps in the current legal and policy framework to tackle marine litter and proposes targeted measures to improve the prevention, collection and recyclability of plastics, in particular, of plastic packaging. It also aims to develop a regulatory framework for plastics with biodegradable properties to prevent harm to ecosystems. It highlights the perspective of additional measures specifically on fishing gear. The European Chemicals Agency is preparing restriction dossiers for microplastic particles intentionally added to preparations, such as cosmetics, and the use of oxo-degradable plastics. Besides, the problem of micro-plastics for marine litter, the Strategy identifies single-use plastics as a specific problem for the marine environment.

Overall, there is a wide range of polices and instruments touching upon the issue of marine litter and plastics – reflecting the wide range of sources, means of release and pathways of marine litter. However, there is a gap between the problems identified, their drivers and the availability of legislative tools and measures that can effectively target the sources of marine litter. Existing legislation in its current form, even if fully implemented and enforced will not significantly reduce the harm caused by marine litter, and in particular does not target the most commonly found SUP items adequately. It also leaves a gap regarding the specific requirements related to fishing gear which could benefit from dedicated and well financed mechanisms supporting the needed specific waste and recycling streams.

In conclusion, the existing waste acquis is not sufficiently focused and detailed to deal with the issue of marine litter in a systemic way, prioritising prevention both in terms of items covered (currently only plastic bags are specifically targeted by qualitative and quantitative objectives) and the measures across the value chain (i.e. upstream measures implementing the polluter-pays principle through product design, extended producer responsibility and information tools versus downstream waste management). To cover the full range of most relevant single-use items and deal with them in a targeted way (including the upstream design part), specific EU level legislation is needed to focus the requirements of waste prevention, based on an item-by-item analysis and, where appropriate, addressing market access or consumption reduction, design features, labelling or specific EPR measures.

2.5.How will the problem evolve?

There is a baseline scenario in the form of Option 1, to quantify how the situation in relation to marine litter may develop if the EU decided to limit itself to implementing policies and instruments currently available. In this section, the focus is on the likely development of the underlying drivers.

·Wide availability of plastic as a cheap and convenient option for single use applications: Production of plastics and plastic packaging is forecasted to grow, and so are most of the SUP categories.

·Consumer trend for convenience: There is no evidence that the growth in the use of short-lived or disposable items at the expense of reusable alternatives will halt or even slowdown. On the contrary, demand for such items continues to grow.

·Market fragmentation: Other Member States will follow the recent examples of France, Italy and UK. Ireland and Portugal for instance are examining the use of economic instruments. When these limit the access to the market of some of the problematic products, it will lead to a fragmentation of the European market.

·Market failure: market incentives will increase with the use of Extended Producer Responsibility to reduce the percentage of plastic bottles not collected and recycled. Further financial incentives to reduce consumption of lightweight plastic bags may be put in place. However, those incentives will not capture the full externalities. Regarding fishing gear, requirements on separation of waste material streams on boards and at ports will improve adherence to the waste hierarchy but will not directly address the issues around end destination and incentivisation of compliance. They will also not address the specific costs of returning fishing gear waste, particularly for small ports and fishing operators. Nor will they promote the development of currently infrequent but needed specific waste management and recycling/re-use cycles supported by materials manufacturers.

·Lack of public awareness and lack of market incentives: the policies in place and in the pipeline should increase awareness of the impact of litter, but probably with limited results. E-reporting under the Fisheries Control Regulation may improve compliance with reporting requirements for lost gear, but not reduce the losses themselves. The revised Port Reception Facilities Directive removes a disincentive by stipulating that the fee for landed waste should not depend on the amount of waste delivered, but does not add specific incentives for fishers to land gear waste.

·Poor waste management infrastructure: infrastructure will improve over time to capture more recyclable waste avoiding landfill and incineration, but will not directly target marine littering. The lack of adequate and sufficient infrastructure for the collection of waste fishing gear will be mitigated through the revised Port Reception Facilities directive, but this is unlikely to eliminate all disincentives related to transporting cumbersome and heavy gear material onward from the ports. Recycling benefits from economies of scale. It works on a national scale as in Iceland but is not worthwhile for individual ports as happens at present. The measures related to port reception facilities will not impact similar issues related to inland waters, or aquaculture facilities not linked to commercial ports.

·Consumer behaviour: paradoxically, while there is considerable public pressure for marine litter to be tackled, there is relatively little sign of people's behaviour changing with regard to the purchase, use and inappropriate disposal of plastics.

·Potential harm of marine litter and associated slow disintegration of plastics: Plastics will remain harmful for the environment. While research and innovation are ongoing to make some plastics biodegradable in the marine, standard to verify just claims still need to be developed. Further, it is important to keep in mind that upstream measures, such as prevention, are often more effective and one should not to give the message to consumers that items can be littered.

·Abandonment or discarding of gear: If the legislative measures already proposed are adopted, unaltered, the current situation will improve to some extent with a reduction of the disincentive related to returning waste to port (in accordance with the PRF Directive) and, if they are monitored and enforced, with the strengthening of the obligations under the Fisheries Control Regulation. However, their impact will be limited if not complemented with action to reduce unnecessary costs for the sector.

·Accidental loss of gear: The main causes for loss of gear: Gear conflict, adverse weather, vandalism and theft that result in loss of gear will not disappear.

·Lack of standardized monitoring, retrieval and locating systems. Although the reporting obligations under control regulation have been strengthened, and vessels <12 m are now also required to carry retrieval equipment on board, no mechanism has been envisaged for monitoring gear abandonment or loss on the sea-basin scale that is necessary for retrieval.

·Fishing gear expensive to recycle: No changes are envisaged.

3.Objectives: What is to be achieved?

The general objective is to curb the negative economic, environmental and social impacts arising from plastic marine litter. More specifically, to:

·Limit plastic marine litter (found on the beach, the seabed and floating on the sea surface), and – if still littered – limit the negative economic, environmental and social impacts from (a) Single Use Plastics (SUP) placed on the market in Europe and (b) abandoned, lost and otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) from the European fishing sector;

·Tackle a common and transboundary problem in a coordinated and coherent way across the EU, enabling effective action at scale while complementing national measures;

·Ensure a continued proper functioning of the internal market by avoiding fragmentation of measures across Member States;

·Avoid disadvantages for small ports and fishing operators who might be disproportionately affected by the development of new PRFs and could benefit from additional measures supporting the development of specific waste and recycling streams for fishing gear, and from burden sharing mechanisms such as EPR that involve producers of gear materials in the management of the problem;

·Ensure a shared direction and framework to guide future actions and to support strategic innovation into materials, products, technologies and business models within the EU (i.e. “future-proofing”).

4.Why should the EU act?

4.1.Legal Base

EU competence stems from the articles of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) related to the protection of the environment (Article 192 (1) TFEU) and the internal market (Article 114 TFEU). The measures identified in the preferred option pursue the objectives: to prevent and reduce the environmental impacts; to define market restrictions and product requirements ensuring a proper functioning of the internal market with high environmental standards and avoiding fragmentation by national approaches.

Measures to reduce marine litter are already included in EU legislation through the Waste Framework Directive, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive and the Fisheries Control Regulation under the EU Fisheries common policy and these acts are mainly based on environmental legal basis in Article 192 TFEU.

The CFP manages EU fisheries as a common policy. It should contribute to the protection of the marine environment, to the sustainable management of all commercially exploited species, and in particular to the achievement of good environmental status by 2020, as set out in Article 1(1) of Directive 2008/56/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council.

With respect to the environmental dimension, the EU's right to act stems from the fact that marine litter represents both a common and a transboundary challenge, with marine litter travelling considerable distances.

4.2.Necessity of EU action and EU added value

Marine litter is a transboundary issue. European policy would have a direct impact on marine litter in European seas, and beyond. Litter that starts in Europe can travel long distances and is found, for example, in the Arctic. Hence, European policy would tackle the European contribution to both the problem of marine litter in the EU and outside the EU. In addition, action at the European level legitimises the EU position as a global leader in ocean governance and may catalyse action in other countries and regions as in other international areas such as e.g. climate policy.

The public consultation indicated overwhelming support for action to tackle single use plastic marine litter, with 98.5% of respondents considering such action “necessary”, and 95% “necessary and urgent”. More than 70% of manufacturers and more than 80% of brands and recyclers considered action necessary and urgent.

While marine litter is a transboundary issue, current action by Member States is fragmented in terms of scope, focus as well as ambition. Most measures against marine litter are adopted in the framework of MSFD. In that context, the first measures reported by Member States in order to reach GES by 2030 address a variety of sources and types of marine litter, but they do not consistently address all major sources of marine litter and they are not coordinated among the neighbouring countries and within a marine region. These measures taken by Member States are of different level of intensity and intervention from product to product and from country to country.

The actions taken at Member State level have had some effect, but do not tackle the problem in a comprehensive and coordinated way. Current experiences in a good number of EU Member States indicate that without a more targeted EU-wide initiative on marine litter specifically focussing on the most littered items, EU wide impact is unlikely. Also, without such an initiative, EU-wide markets for alternative solutions with sufficient economies of scale will not develop. New national actions targeting a diverse list of products (such as Italy’s ban on plastic cotton buds and French rules defining national biodegradability criteria for the marketing of plastic SUPs) cannot by themselves solve the problem.

There is a risk that further efforts at the national level will result in a scattered approach with each Member State taking action separately targeting different products in different ways. For some items (e.g. caps and lids), the problem of littering can be tackled through product design changes. In such cases there is a clear link to 'product policy' and market access in the internal market where a level playing field for businesses is important.

A more detailed analysis is contained in table 6 below as well as in Annex 3. The fragmentation of policies, measures and level of ambition in this area would lead to variable restrictions of market access (with a potential to favour national industries), barriers to the free circulation of goods and unfair competition, possibly linked to protective measures, between producers in different countries.

Many of these measures have not yet entered into force or had time to have full effect on the functioning of the internal market. As science and the public opinion are advancing, other Member States are planning to take action. This will add to the layer of complexity and variable geometry hence increasing the risk of creating uneven playing field for the economic operators.

It is a problem for the internal market even if, for example, cutlery is subject to marketing restrictions in one country but not in another. This is problematic because of the increasing complexity of supply chains, harmonised production for the whole or large parts of the European market, and the incredible complexity that could arise with 28 countries adopting different legal and policy approaches to diverse and different products (with inevitably multiple cases of bordering countries having different approaches). The degree of the fragmentation of national or even regional and local approaches will depend on these factors and the extent of variation among neighbouring countries in particular.

Table 6. Examples of existing measures regarding SUPs across EU Member states

Member State/ Country/Region

Measure

Item Addressed / Detail

Year

Belgium – Brussels Region

Ban

Ban of ultra-lightweight plastic bags

Sept. 2018

Denmark, Island of Samsø

Ban

All plastic bags

2018

France

Ban

Plastic cups, glasses, plates and cutlery. Includes plastic coffee cups (exception for home compostable ones and/or partly or fully made of bio-based plastics)

2020

France

Ban

Plastic cotton buds

2020

France

Ban

Ultra-lightweight plastic bags “produce bags” e.g. those used to pack fruit and vegetables, meat and fish. Compostable bags are exempt

2017

France

Ban

Oxo-fragmentable bags

2015

Italy

Ban

Non-Biodegradable plastic cotton buds

2019

Italy

Ban

Ban on ultra-lightweight bags e.g. used to pack fruit, vegetables, meat and fish. Compostable (CEN 13432:2002) and bio-based (UNI CEN/TS 16640) bags of less than 50 microns are exempt

From 2016

Italy

Ban

Throwing cigarette buds into the environment

2016

Portugal

Ban / restriction

Budget law established a working group to propose actions to limit SUP in the framework of green taxation

Proposal by May 2018

Scotland

Ban

Plastic Cotton Buds – Proposal to introduce a ban will be put to public consultation

2018 (proposed)

Scotland

Ban

Investigating the potential for banning plastic straws

Proposed ban

Scotland

Ban

Single Use Plastics – Ensure plastic is reusable / recyclable by 2030

2030

Spain – Balearic Islands

Ban – Regional

All single use consumer plastics – items will have to become “easily recyclable” or switch to biodegradable alternatives

2020

Spain – Balearic Islands

Law – Regional

Wet wipes will be required to be clearly labelled as to prevent flushing

2020

Spain – Balearic Islands

Law - Regional

Law will address plastic bottles by requiring restaurants to provide tap water free of charge.

In discussion

Source: Eunomia (2018)

The public consultation, which is also relevant for national policy makers, has shown that action is considered desirable at all levels (Member States, the EU, local and regional authorities and the private sector, in that order, followed by individual responsibility).

The public consultation revealed strong support for action at EU level: 59% regarded an approach based on new EU measures as “very effective”; 54% regarded better enforcement of existing measures would be “very effective”.

Only 2% of respondents believed that there should be no new measures at European level and 79% believed that not taking EU measures would mean ineffective measures. Also notable is that of those calling for European level action 36% specified this should be focused on maintaining a level playing field in respect of single market and competition rules.

A number of EU-level instruments deal with fishing gear. Complementing these instruments would be done most effectively by EU-level action ensuring a continued uniform approach. By way of example, the programmes of measures under the MSFD targeting fishing gear are being designed by Member States on an individual basis, where some of the proposed actions (e.g. EPR, recycling) would be better done on a common footing. A number of actions to tackle sea-based sources of marine litter are already taken at EU level (e.g. the Port Reception Facilities directive). The Common Fisheries Policy, whose objective is the conservation and management of marine biological resources, is implemented through EU legal instruments such as the Control Regulation. Any action to complement the existing legal framework at an EU level would maximise its added value. Conversely, action to complement the existing framework but taken at national or regional level would risk undermining the existing framework by distorting the “level playing field”.

Figure 8. Public consultation – views on importance

In some cases 67 , there are regional or national measures which aim to incentivise in particular fishers to bring back fished up waste and gear to shore by for example waiving port fees or waste fees. This can impact the competitiveness of fishing operations on the one hand, by providing an advantage to local fishers over their neighbours or jeopardise an otherwise positive measure by making it unsustainable because it would attract waste from non-local operators, resulting in disproportionate costs for the local ports or regional organisations. EU action in support of such mechanisms across the EU would level the playing field whilst improving the overall collection rate of fishing gear waste.

Similarly, the advantages of an indirect port fee system excluding separate charges for waste collection can be reduced in cases where the implementation of enhanced port reception facilities leads to a de facto increase in port costs, particularly in small ports and for small operators, notably in the fishing sector. Complementing the measures envisaged in the revised PRF Directive with action that minimises or eliminates the additional cost for ports and small scale operators as a result of envisaging extended producer responsibility for fishing gear containing plastic would strengthen the overall impact of EU level measures to reduce marine litter.

The added value of EU action would lie in providing a framework for more specific coordinated action that is effective and efficient in achieving the common goal to prevent and reduce the impact of marine litter in the EU. Action at EU level would:

·avoid disruption in the free movement of goods in the Union market, which results from scattered measures at national level targeting different products or same products, but with different measures, as for example different product bans country by country

·provide a clear and strong signal to the product markets because EU action would increase the scale and viability of the proposed actions and that would help to create a wider market for the alternative products or business models and consequent positive impacts in, growth and jobs;

·reduce implementation costs for economic actors, in particular, by providing a harmonised, EU-wide framework for measures such as marketing bans and requirements and consumption reduction targets and by facilitating cross-border partnerships to save costs – for instance to deal with waste fishing gear;

·address the transboundary nature of marine litter and ensure a level playing field among the Member States and their economic operators' efforts in tackling marine litter;

·complement and reinforce existing EU legislation to effectively tackle the different drivers and pathways of marine litter in a more specific and targeted manner;

·facilitate the sharing of positive experiences and best practices.

Some measures (such as product bans, design requirements etc.) would be best established at EU level, whilst for other measures (such as reduction targets for products without sufficiently available substitutes or information campaigns) Member States should have freedom to choose among specific implementation methods, in line with the subsidiarity principle. This follows the approach of the Plastic Bags Directive (EU) 2015/720 that sets a clear common direction at EU level, but gives Member States some choice on the measures, including the use of economic instruments. The Directive has led to drastic cuts in lightweight plastic bags to the approval of citizens across Europe.

4.3.Consistency of these objectives with other EU policies

Given its focus on more efficient resource use and a more effective and circular plastics economy/value chain with better economic and environmental performances, the initiative is fully in line with the objectives of the Circular Economy policy. The Circular Economy is an integral part of the 10 priorities of the President, in particular the one on jobs, growth and investment.

The initiative aims at preserving the internal market from fragmentation, which is – by essence – one of the key objectives of the Union.

The initiative is fully consistent with the overall objectives of EU waste policy and the EU waste hierarchy according to which waste prevention should be given the highest priority. The initiative serves the objectives of the EU's Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive – environmental protection and preservation of the internal market. The initiative is also in line with the provisions of the soon to be amended Waste Framework Directive notably on the prevention objective to halt the generation of marine litter and to the requirement to take measures to combat all types of litter. While in line with all the waste acquis, the initiative goes one step further and addresses the gap in the current legislation which lacks specific provisions for the most harmful items from a marine littering perspective (besides microplastic for which separate action is already foreseen in the Plastics Strategy).

The initiative complements the measures against marine litter, undertaken by the Member States under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and will support its effective implementation.

The stakeholder consultation on the initiative yielded strong support for additional action to incentivise the return of gear to shore and ensure compliance, and which supports the proposed initiative. In the response of the stakeholders to the question about the selection of measures to help reduce lost and discarded fishing gear with the most selected options:

1.Incentive to bring fished up litter and end-of-life gear ashore (88%)

2.Better collection and sorting facilities on vessels and at ports (70%)

3.Incentives/Funding of retrieval action (68%), and

4.Better enforcement of existing rules (67%)

Similarly, the public stakeholder consultation asked which additional targeted measures would support the bringing fishing gear back ashore. Respondents favoured with 59% deposit return schemes levied on fishers and with 53% an extended producer responsibility scheme including a levy on gear.

The initiative complements existing measure at EU level that aim at tackling the problems related to ALDFG, by proposing measures that: provide additional incentives for the users of fishing gear to return gear waste to shore, enhancing compliance with the existing framework of rules; allowing for the development of schemes for the proper inclusion of fishing gear waste in waste management and recycling streams.

In doing so, the initiative will complement and reinforce the legal framework proposed by the Commission for the reception and management of waste from ships in ports (COM(2018)33 legislative proposal for a new Directive on port reception facilities for the delivery of waste from ships). This framework also includes requirements for providing cost recovery systems for this type of waste based on a 100% indirect fee for garbage (MARPOL Annex V).

Action under the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), including the requirement to implement an ecosystem approach to fisheries management that ensures that negative impacts on the marine ecosystems are minimised. It takes advantage of provisions under the EU's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), in particular those of the Fisheries Control Regulation addressing ALDFG, and of the EMFF Regulation encouraging the involvement of fishermen in the reduction of marine litter. It complements the Technical and IUU Regulation where they do not provide provisions specifically targeting ALDFG.

Internationally, this initiative is consistent with the Communication on International Ocean Governance and the commitments taken in Malta at the Our Ocean Conference. This initiative is coherent with the 2017 Strategy "Towards the Outermost Regions". Finally, the initiative is consistent with the EU's international obligations in the area of trade policy, notably by ensuring equality of treatment for products produced in the EU and imported products.

5.Policy options

5.1.Options and products for detailed analysis 

5.1.1.Options not analysed in detail 

Recommendation: This would essentially reconfirm the current situation of an indicative non-binding target, as expressed in the 2015 Circular Economy Action Plan. A Recommendation by itself would therefore not bring any added value.

Sanctioning the loss and abandonment of fishing gear by reducing fishing quotas. This option would likely be counterproductive and almost impossible to control without disproportionate administrative and financial effort.

Voluntary recycling schemes by fisheries associations. Fishers take back to port end-of-life or broken gear and are compensated by recyclers for delivering clean, sorted plastics depending on the quality and type of material. Although in Iceland, such a scheme is running successfully - 70% of the retrieved gear can be recycled and 90% of it is sent for recycling to Lithuania – the variety and decentralised nature of EU fisheries precludes such a voluntary approach.

5.1.2.Prioritisation of sources of marine littering and products for further analysis

The prioritisation method aims to reflect the prevalence and environmental impact of different sources along with the existence of ongoing efforts to tackle them. Where such efforts are ongoing, there is little value-added in including them for further analysis. As such:

·Microplastics intentionally added to a product are excluded, as they are being assessed by ECHA through the preparation of a distinct restriction dossier under REACH. Similarly, primary micro plastics coming from other sources (tyres, textiles and plastic pellets) requires completely different policy answers and therefore are not covered in the analysis. These policy answers are detailed in the Plastics Strategy and will include a combination of standardisation, labelling, product requirements and actions along the whole value chain.

·Litter emanating from sea-based sources are partially covered by international obligations (in particular MARPOL Annex V) and at the EU level by the PRF Directive and its revision. There is scope for complementing that legislation, in particular, by targeting the specificities of fishing gear, which will be examined below. End-of-use recreational boats are an important source of sea-based litter – with only around 2,000 boats being dismantled of the 80,000 that annually reach the end of their lives and the remaining likely to be left abandoned will also not be covered here.

·Non-plastic debris is excluded – in many cases this does not persist, in other cases, it is mostly inert materials, and with relatively low environmental damage, (though it may be relatively visible).

·Plastic bags: Directive (EU) 2015/720 defines an obligation for Member States to take measures to reduce consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags by defining a maximum consumption level (to be attained by end of 2019) and/or by requiring that such bags are provided to consumers at the point of sale free of charge (measures to be put in place by end of 2018). Member States have to report the annual consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags as of May 2018. An overall picture of the effect of the measures in the EU is not yet available but evidence from Member States such as Ireland that is already applying such a policy, show convincing results in the reduction of the use of plastic bags (90% reduction in just over one year) and of the presence of such bags in marine litter. New measures on plastic bags await an assessment by the European Commission on the effectiveness of current measures and on whether new measures are required for the reduction of “other plastic bags” by November 2021.

The focus is therefore on two areas that form the main sources of plastic marine litter that are either not addressed by existing legislation, or where relevant legislation does not include in its scope adequate measures:

·The Top 10 Single use Plastics (SUP), with this Top 10 making up 43% of total beach counts;

·Fishing gear (which makes up around 27% of total beach counts).

5.2.Description of the policy options

5.2.1.Option 1: "baseline scenario" 

This option covers the current regulatory framework that includes measures and policies at EU level that have been recently adopted or proposed by the Commission. This option entails an increased focus in the existing legislation on items already covered today in separate collection schemes (e.g. packaging such as beverage bottles, bags) and on fishing gear. It also includes the general expected changes in consumption for single use plastics items.

The measures included in this option include:

·Measures on waste management, including those of the recently revised Waste Framework Directive and Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (that will enter into force in 2020, when Member States will have to transpose these amendments):

oThe Packaging Directive, as amended, will re-focus the prevention objectives on re-use of packaging, however, the substantial obligation will merely require Member States to “encourage” the reuse of packaging. More ambitious and concrete measures in the Packaging Directive are envisaged only with regard to one SUP item - plastic bags. For other SUP items, due to the general nature of the prevention and reuse obligations and the flexibility for Member States to choose the measures, positive effects are much more uncertain. The review of the essential requirements for packaging for purpose to facilitate separate collection and recyclability in view of the circular economy objectives is already announced, for 2020, in the EU Plastics Strategy.

oThe Packaging Directive, as amended, will also establish higher recycling targets – 50% by 2025 and 55% by 2030 for plastic packaging 68 . This would require Member States to improve their separate collection in terms of both capture and quality of the collected material and divert that waste from landfill and incineration to recycling. However, the increase in recycling rates as such does not necessarily require in depth efforts to reduce littering or/ an extension or improvement of separate collection close to water bodies where the waste loads have large seasonal variations.

oThe revised Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive requires all Member States to introduce extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes for all packaging by 2025. However, non-packaging single-use plastic products are not covered by these schemes. Moreover, for plastic packaging single-use products this is unlikely to lead to reduced marine litter as in most Member States EPR schemes have already been in place for many years for household packaging, which represents half of the top 10 SUP items.

oThe amendments to the Waste Framework Directive will set minimum requirements for EPR schemes. The requirements make it optional for Member States to require that EPR schemes contribute to waste prevention, including through prevention campaigns or clean-up of litter.

oThe Waste Framework Directive contains new, general waste prevention objectives requiring Member States to take measures (a) aiming to halt the generation of marine litter as a contribution to UN SDG 14 to prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds; (b) to take appropriate measures to prevent and reduce litter from products that are the main sources of littering notably in the marine environment; and (c) to organise information campaigns to raise awareness about waste prevention and littering. These measures (“that shall aim to”) do not require Member States to achieve or demonstrate the attainment of the objective pursued and they leave significant flexibility with regard to the products that Member States may choose to target and the measures to do that, including through possible market restrictions. As described above this may lead to a fragmentation of the internal market.

oThe Waste Framework Directive contains a requirement on Member States to revise their (a) waste prevention programmes to reflect the general objectives with respect to the prevention of (marine) litter and (b) waste management plans to provide for general measures to combat and prevent all forms of littering and to clean up all types of litter (not limited to land based litter). Member States will also be required to coordinate these plans and measures on litter with other plans and measures that they are required to adopt under international and EU water legislation to tackle litter in the aquatic environment 69 . It is not possible to calculate by how much the quantities of marine litter will be reduced exactly as a result of this obligation, in particular, because it is a more procedural requirement with no measurable outcome.

·The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive and Water Framework Directive:

oUnder the MSFD, Member States had to adopt measures to address marine litter by 2016. On the basis of the information contained in the programmes of measures submitted (in 2016) by the Member States, it is not possible to calculate by how much the quantities of marine litter will be reduced. The Commission's assessment of the measures shows that the most common type of measures reported by Member States include beach clean-ups and 'fishing for litter'. These are costly downstream measures, as opposed to upstream measures to improve waste management and prevention, and that do not prevent the littering at source. Therefore, they only have a modest impact on reducing the pressure, although they do raise awareness. Targeted measures for beach litter, such as by limiting the proliferation of single-use plastics, or for the reduction of microplastics and of litter from aquaculture were largely absent in Member States' programmes of measures under the MSFD. Some Member States have taken measures to limit the use of certain plastics in view of its impact on the marine environment, but have not reported them as part of their programme of measures.

oThe Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive provides minimum requirements for the infrastructure for the collection and treatment of urban waste water and quality criteria for the treatment. However, this Directive is not effective with respect to the requirements on capture and treatment of storm water overflows and concerning microplastics, which are not covered by the directive. This is in particular an issue for flushed items such as plastic cotton bud sticks and sanitary applications for which the pathway into the sea is through sewage systems. The Water Framework Directive requires Member States to adopt programmes of measures to achieve good ecological status (GES) of the water bodies but it does not specifically require action against marine litter or as criteria against which GES should be assessed. Improvements in its implementation should be expected as a result of the new requirement to coordinate these programmes with those under the MSFD and Waste Framework Directive.

·Port Reception Facilities Directive:

oIntroduces a 100% indirect fee for waste from ships, as well as passively fished waste, and includes fishing vessels and recreational craft in the indirect fee regime. This reduces some of the disincentive caused by specific waste fees to bring back fished up waste and gear ashore. However, there is no compensation for the inconvenience of sorting and storing the waste on board, some of which will not be from the vessel concerned.

oRequires port reception facilities to effectively implement the waste hierarchy in the context of management of waste from ships, including the separate collection of waste from vessels in port in view of further reuse/recycling. That separate collection obligation does not, however, require separate collection of fishing gear.
Also the obligation to collect and subsequently treat waste would thus fall on the ports and their fees for ships, including notably small-scale fishers, would increase, unless compensated by other sources such as extended producer responsibility schemes. The cost increase could be considerable notably in small fishing ports which currently have either no, or very small port reception facilities.

oDedicated enforcement regime for fishing vessels over 100 GT (minimum 20% inspection target)

oThe Commission's proposal for a revision of the Port Reception Facilities Directive was intended to be one of several measures contributing to the Commission's Circular Economy Strategy 70 and the Commission's Strategy on Plastic 71 . Accordingly, the Commission's proposal for a revision of the Port Reception Facilities states that: "additional measures for reducing lost or abandoned fishing gear are examined, such as extended producer responsibility and deposit-refund schemes for commonly littered fishing gear" 72 .

·Fisheries Control Regulation:

oFull implementation of the current requirements to mark gear (Article 8) 73 to carry retrieval equipment on board, to retrieve lost gear or to report its loss in case it cannot be retrieved (Article 48). A planned revision will introduce daily electronic reporting for all vessels and remove the exemption of small vessels from the obligation to carry retrieval equipment. However, this will increase costs for fishers without adding any positive incentive to bring more gear back to shore.

·European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF)

o2014-2020: includes operations targeting marine litter, including removal of litter from the sea, and infrastructure improvements at ports.

oPost 2020: It is envisaged, in line with the Plastics Strategy, to make marine litter a funding priority under the new programming period.

·The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation voluntary Guidelines on the Marking of Fishing Gear adopted in February 2018 are expected to be endorsed in July 2018 and subsequently implemented.

Finally, the implementation of the actions included in the EU Plastics Strategy and the Communication on the interface between chemical, waste and product legislation are also relevant.

5.2.2.Set up of new EU level measures to reduce marine litter in options 2 and 3

Measures for SUP are proposed as part of option 2 and for fishing gear as part of option 3. The approach takes into account differences in design, material and chemical composition, use and pathways for littering between products.

For each product, there is a ladder of measures with the bottom of the ladder being the current amount of litter caused by a product. The baseline scenario in all cases already leads to a first step up the ladder, leading to an impact on the level of littering of each product. The subsequent steps of the ladder are determined by the policy measures that could lead to a reduction of littering: the more ambitious the measures, the bigger the reduction in littering. Different steps of the ladder may require different legal instruments to enable them.

For some products, the ladder can be climbed all the way to the top (in other words, if the product is banned, marine litter from EU sources would be completely stopped). For other products, the Impact Assessment will show that it is only possible or desirable to climb part of the way, for example, because there are no obvious suitable alternatives (such as currently for cigarettes, sanitary applications, balloons).

5.2.3.Sub-option 2a to 2d: Single use plastics

The analysis for single use plastics is undertaken on a product-by-product basis. Annex 6 goes through the analysis in detail, but the main steps are set out here and continue in Section 6.2.

Step 1: A range of measures was identified that could cover some or all of the different products. These are measures either taken by some regions or Member States or at the international level and / or identified in discussions with experts and stakeholders. They are in broadly increasing order of ambition:

-Information campaigns – to raise awareness and based upon using behavioural insights;

-Voluntary action – in the form of commitments or agreements with business and industry;

-Labels - the mandatory labelling of specific products to inform the consumers on the potential implications in terms of marine litter of unappropriated behaviour (e.g. such as "do not litter" or "do not flush");

-Extended producers responsibility (EPR) systems – for packaging EPR is already an existing obligation but it does not cover clean-up which would be added. For non-packaging, there is no existing EPR obligation, but the new measure would make the minimum requirements of the new waste legislation mandatory. In addition, it would add the responsibility to cover clean-up costs (see also sub-option 3a to 3b);

-Specific Requirements on Product Design, in particular tethering the cap to a bottle;

-Putting in place Deposit Return Systems for beverage containers (or equivalent measure);

-Reduction targets for specific single use plastic products, with Member States free to choose the measures to reach the target, for instance through a charge. These may make sense when alternatives exist in some contexts, but not for all. It would allow Member States freedom in terms of the policy measures they pursue;

-Bans of SUP items;

-Setting technical standards for Waste Water Treatment Works (WWTW) and Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs): "best practices for WWTW".

Each measure pushes the substitution of single use products by shifting behaviour towards alternative use models, multi-use versions or a substitution of the plastic in the single use item. In this last case, plastics would be replaced by materials which biodegrade in the marine environment in a sufficiently short timeframe to avoid harm to human health and the environment, such as paper and wood which have not been treated with hazardous chemicals that can be released into the environment. Testing potentially biodegradable plastics would require an accepted scientific standard on marine biodegradability, currently lacking at EU level 74 .

The measures would trigger responses in the market. For example, there would be research and innovation into material and product substitution (plastics and other types) making the product more cost-effectively recyclable, biodegradable or harmless when littered.

The Stakeholder consultation confirmed the need for a range of measures adapted to different SUP products. An EU-wide prevention target was preferred. With respect to regulatory measures, such as bans, the importance of public support was highlighted. Discussions around the limitations of potential measures highlighted in particular that:

·There is limited evidence on the effectiveness of awareness raising campaigns, which are not sufficient as a standalone measure.

·Bans are a good way of enforcing the redesign of specific low-value items but can interfere with the operation of the single market if applied at (sub) national level.

·Charges were seen as a preventive measure, which can influence consumer behaviour; and generate a new stream of revenue. Industry representatives highlighted, and others agreed, that a legislative approach was needed to ensure broad application and a level playing field.

·Setting targets for reduction in consumption of specific items was generally seen as an appropriate measure for EU-level action.

·An alternative option is requiring that SUP are not given away free at the point of sale.

Reactions to the Impact Assessment Roadmap also argued that the diversity of SUPs mean that a differentiated approach is required depending on whether plastic marine litter is the result of items that can be profitably recycled, items for which more sustainable alternatives exist, or finally items for which there is no readily available alternative.

Step 2: The availability of alternatives to Single Use Plastic items was considered, ranging from alternative business models, multi-use products, single use non-plastic alternatives, or different consumer behaviour. Annex 3 includes a non-exhaustive list of the single and multi-use alternatives available for the different products, but for example:

-For some products, alternatives are available with lower environmental impact if the items were still littered, such as plastic cotton bud sticks moving to paper stemmed, or wood substitutes that would pose no inconvenience to consumers, while reducing the negative impact if littered.

-For other products, the preferred alternatives might be a mix of change in model, product and material. Therefore, reusable cutlery offers a clear alternative to single use and if reuse would be difficult, there should be a material substitution (e.g. untreated wood) and items should be recyclable, in line with the waste hierarchy.

-For some other products, the acceptability of the available alternatives is less clear, such as plant-derived cellulose filters for cigarettes (although the market share of these appears to be increasing).

This is important because items with good alternatives are the best candidates for demanding measures. For items for which the market for alternatives is still developing, then there is a need for measures to promote new business models and alternative materials. Meanwhile, for items for which legislation already exists (bottles) or without substitutes (cigarette butts…) then the best measures may be more soft measures such as awareness raising and producer's responsibility to pay for clean-up. Table 6 below groups the items broadly by alternatives, but it should be noted that each has its own specificities and so this is only indicative.

Table 7. Product matrix according to availability of alternatives to SUP products

Items with none or difficult alternatives

Items with some alternatives

Items with clear alternatives

Cigarette butts

Beverage bottles

Crisp packets and sweet wrappers

Sanitary towels

Balloons

Food containers

Cups

Wet wipes

Cotton bud sticks

Cutlery, straws and stirrers

Balloon stick

Step 3: The feasibility of the measures was considered for each product. For example, for ‘drinks bottles, caps and lids’, feasible measures would include information campaigns, voluntary agreements, product design, a deposit return systems or equivalent measure for beverage containers and EPR to cover cost of littering. However, for ‘drinks bottles, caps and lids’, best practices for WWTW would not be feasible (they would have no effect as this is not a relevant pathway). Across the different products, around 80 to 90 measures are feasible.

Step 4: Four sub-options were generated. These involve choosing amongst the 80 to 90 feasible measures available and packaging them into four sub-options (a, b, c and d). Some comments on the way the sub-options are put together:

-The effectiveness is measured first by the decrease of litter and in particular marine litter. The choice between measures is based on the availability of alternatives, impact on convenience for the consumer, implementation feasibility and further reduction potential. This is relevant for the choice between reduction targets and bans.

-It does not make sense to present sub-options with the same measure or intensity for all products. For example, presenting a sub-option of a ban for all products would not reflect the availability of alternatives or the importance of different drivers for different products. Hence, the four sub-options include different measures for different products reflecting their alternatives, pathways and drivers;

-The criteria for going from sub-option 2a to 2b to 2c to 2d is that each steps involves increasing effectiveness towards the general objective of curbing the negative impacts arising from marine litter but also, in general, increasing implementation difficulty and or costs.

-Not all products have additional measures in each sub-option. For example, sub-option 2c reflects additional effort on wet wipes, cutlery, straws and stirrers and balloon sticks. For the other products, the measures are unchanged from 2b.

-This approach presents packages of measures, but of course, this is based on aggregating analysis of individual measures on individual products and there is scope to move measures between different sub-options. The underlying analysis is presented in Annex 6 (Tables 25 to 28) and allows for an individual measure for an individual product to be identified in isolation and moved between sub-options.

The table below presents in tabular form the different components of each sub-option.



Table 8.Option 2 Product-sub option matrix with modelled measures

Item

Sub option 2a

Sub option 2b

Sub option 2c

Sub option 2d

Cigarette butts

Information campaigns

Voluntary action

Information campaigns

Voluntary action

EPR-cost of litter

Information campaigns

Voluntary action

EPR-cost of litter

Information campaigns

Voluntary action

EPR-cost of litter

Label

Reduction target (30% by 2025, 50% by 2030)

Drinks bottles

Information campaigns

Voluntary action

Information campaigns

Voluntary action

EPR-cost of litter

Product design

Information campaigns

Voluntary action

EPR-cost of litter

Product design

Information campaigns

Voluntary action

EPR-cost of litter

Product design

DRS for beverage containers

Cotton bud sticks

Information campaigns

Voluntary action

Label

Ban

Ban

Ban

Crisp packets

Information campaigns

Voluntary action

Information campaigns

Voluntary action

EPR-cost of litter

Information campaigns

Voluntary action

EPR-cost of litter

Information campaigns

Voluntary action

EPR-cost of litter

Wet wipes

Information campaigns

Voluntary action

Label

Information campaigns

Voluntary action

Label

EPR-cost of litter

Information campaigns

Voluntary action

Label

EPR-cost of litter

Reduction target (30% by 2025, 50% by 2030)

Best practices for WWTW

Sanitary towels

Information campaigns

Voluntary action

Label

Information campaigns

Voluntary action

Label

EPR-cost of litter

Information campaigns

Voluntary action

Label

EPR-cost of litter

Information campaigns

Voluntary action

Label

EPR-cost of litter

Reduction target (25% by 2030)

Cutlery;

Straws;

Stirrers

Information campaigns

Voluntary action

Information campaigns

Voluntary action

EPR-cost of litter

Reduction target (30% by 2025, 50% by 2030)

Ban

Ban

Drinks cups & lids;

Food containers

Information campaigns

Voluntary action

Information campaigns

Voluntary action

EPR-cost of litter

Reduction target (30% by 2025, 50% by 2030)

Information campaigns

Voluntary action

EPR-cost of litter

Reduction target (30% by 2025, 50% by 2030)

Information campaigns

Voluntary action

EPR-cost of litter

Reduction target (50% by 2025, 80% by 2030)

Balloons

Information campaigns

Voluntary action

Label

Information campaigns

Voluntary action

Label

EPR-cost of litter

Information campaigns

Voluntary action

Label

EPR-cost of litter

Information campaigns

Voluntary action

Label

EPR-cost of litter

Balloon sticks

Information campaigns

Voluntary action

Label

Information campaigns

Voluntary action

Label

EPR-cost of litter

Ban

Ban

Additional measures compared to the sub-option on the left are written in bold:

·All measures in 2a are in bold because they are not in the baseline. To follow an example, for cigarette butts, in 2b EPR for the cost of litter is added, 2c is the same as 2b for this product and then 2d includes labels and a reduction target.

·When a ban is introduced, then there is no need for labels, information campaigns etc.

Sub-option 2a

The first sub-option is relatively cheap and straightforward to implement, but has a low effectiveness with regard to curbing the negative impacts arising from marine litter, especially against the baseline option. Broadly, there are two groups of measures:

·information campaigns and voluntary actions for all SUP in scope,

·measures related to labelling of improperly flushed items: cotton bud sticks, wet wipes and sanitary towels (the main driver for marine litter for these items, is that they are flushed, while they should not). This labelling would inform the consumers on the potential implications in terms of marine litter of for example flushing. Labelling would also apply to balloons (informing consumers not to let fly balloons in the open air as they potentially harm nature).

The public consultation revealed scepticism about the effectiveness of awareness and labelling measures alone, with only 30% of respondents believing that these would be “very effective”, although higher levels were registered from some sectors, notably plastics converters (63%) and manufacturers (58%). Similarly, voluntary actions by business were considered “very effective” by only 29% of respondents, again with some variations, for example with fewer plastics converters and manufacturers finding them very effective (20% and 19% respectively), but more retailers and food outlets (41% and 50%) considered voluntary actions very effective.

Sub-option 2b

The second sub-option is more effective, while becoming more challenging to implement (bringing with it more costs and burden for those affected). It includes the same measures as the first sub-option, and in addition:

·A ban of plastic cotton bud sticks, where there is a very clear alternative. This also means that information campaigns etc. are dropped for this product).

·EPR to contribute to the cost of cleaning up litter for SUP that are either frequently littered (cigarette butts, drinks bottles, crisp packets and sweet wrappers, straws, stirrers, drinks cups and lids, food containers, balloons) or flushed when they should not be and then end up in the sea (wet wipes, sanitary towels);

·Product design measures for drink bottles related to tethered caps;

·Reduction targets for single use plastic products where there are alternatives on the market and/or behaviour could change (cutlery, straws, stirrers, drinks cups and lids, and food containers: 30% by 2025 and 50% by 2030). Member States will be obliged to introduce national reduction targets, i.e. legally binding reductions in consumption from a base year, or other measures that would obtain the same result, such as levies, deposit refund systems, nudging policies (behavioural response policies) etc., which makes this approach similar to that in the Plastic Bags Directive.

Sub-option 2b implies an increasing trade-off between being ambitious in terms of expected impact (see Annex 6) and being feasible to implement, e.g. alternatives are already on the market, or Member States have sufficient control on how to tailor measures to local conditions (subsidiarity principle).

In the public consultation 44% of respondents considered legislative requirements to use alternative materials as “most appropriate (effective, proportionate, economically efficient and socially acceptable)”, an option amounting effectively to a ban on plastic versions of this product. About 40% considered extended producer responsibility schemes as appropriate for such items.

Respondents to the public consultation overwhelmingly favoured the use of EPR schemes to cover the costs of cleaning up litter, with 91% considering that cigarette companies should contribute financially to clearing up of cigarette butts in this way, and 6% against (20% of those in the “manufacturers” category were against). 79% believed that producers of sanitary items should contribute to cleaning up costs of sanitary towels, with 11% against. For bottles, 33% of respondents expressed support for reduction targets and 20% for design requirements. These responses were on an “either-or” basis for first preference, and it is not clear how many would opt for design measures in addition to their first preference.

With regard to products where there are alternatives on the market and/or behaviour could change, the public consultation indicated support for a mix of measures, with some variations depending on category of respondent.

Table 9. Public consultation – views on responses by stakeholder group

CUTLERY

Legislative requirements for substitute materials

Minimum Design Requirements

Reduction Target for Use

All respondents

42%

14%

34%

Food outlets & restaurants

71%

14%

29%

Retailers

51%

27%

32%

Waste collectors

56%

26%

41%

Importers

54%

31%

8%

Brands

18%

18%

27%

Manufacturers

34%

33%

17%

Plastics converters

41%

39%

17%

Recyclers

62%

28%

23%

R&D

57%

18%

45%

Tourism

55%

18%

39%

Wholesalers

25%

50%

8%

For other products for which there are alternatives on the market, the overall balance of appropriate measures was similar, but legislative measures for substitute materials were considered slightly more pertinent in relation to caps & lids and food containers.

Table 10. Public consultation – views on responses by products

Legislative requirements for substitute materials

Minimum Design Requirements

Reduction Target for Use

Straws & Stirrers

42%

14%

34%

Cups

42%

14%

35%

Caps & Lids

45%

17%

28%

Food Containers

47%

17%

27%

Breaking down the reduction target to look at how Member States might achieve reductions, there was a fairly balanced split between measures. For example, in respect of single use drinks cups, 34% of respondents expressed a preference for direct measures such as restrictions or charges, 31% preferred use of incentives (such as price reductions) for consumers bringing reusable cups onto premises, and 30% felt preferred awareness raising measures.

Sub-option 2c

The third sub-option would have a higher effectiveness still. It includes the same measures as the second sub-option and includes in addition:

·reduction targets for wet wipes, which was not included in sub-option 2b as the alternatives are less clear: 30% by 2025 and 50% by 2030;

·bans for a group of single use plastic items, where there are alternatives on the market: cutlery, straws and stirrers, balloon sticks (meaning other measures related to these products are no longer needed);

The public consultation showed strong support (93% of respondents) for policies to phase out disposable non-biodegradable plastic tableware (such as cups, plates, cutlery and stirrers) in favour of reusable alternatives or those made with more biodegradable materials. However, about 50% of plastics converters were against such actions.

Sub-option 2d

This sub-option has the highest effectiveness in terms of reducing marine litter but would be the most challenging and costly to implement. It includes the same measures as sub-option 2c (unless these became redundant, e.g. in case of a ban). The measures, which reflect differences in alternatives and feasibility across products, include:

·Best practices for waste water treatment: for wet wipes, as the pathways are the key issue and there is no easy alternative. This would require a longer time horizon and large investments, which EPR could not cover. Investing in improving the wastewater infrastructure makes sense for several reasons – i.e. to further reduce the release of the ‘classical’ organic pollutants. Better capturing wet wipes would be a positive consequence, but probably not a sufficient argument for these additional investments.

·Deposit refund system (DRS) or equivalent measure 75  for beverage containers. The added value may vary between Member States. A DRS for beverage containers is implemented in some Member States (resulting in increased collection rate and reduced littering), but faces opposition driven by a (sometimes real, sometimes perceived) cost argument. While there is public support for DRS (see Open Public Consultation), in countries where EPR schemes are well established, the added value of DRS systems might be limited. Discussions ongoing in several Member States show that the industry (producers of products) is generally not in favour, because it might require investments in new infrastructure in addition to their responsibility to set up and maintain existing separate collection systems that target similar and other waste.

·EPR to cover the full cost of littering crisp packets, sweet and wrappers;

·Reduction targets for sensitive SUP, from a public opinion perspective: sanitary towels (25% by 2030), and cigarette filters (50% by 2025, 80% by 2030).

·Higher reduction targets for drinks cups and lids, and food containers (50% by 2025, 80% by 2030) compared to sub-options 2b and 2c (30% by 2025, 50% by 2030).

The public consultation showed 47% of respondents were in favour of deposit return schemes (with brands, importers and manufacturers less enthusiastic). 77% of respondents stated they would be prepared to pay a small charge on plastic bottles, to be refunded on return, with a further 7% saying that this was already the case in their country.

5.2.4.Sub-option 3a to 3b Fishing gear 

Actions already underway or planned as part of the baseline scenario will already reduce the amount and inflow of plastic from fishing gear in the sea. However, whilst reducing some financial disincentives for fishermen to return their damaged, end-of-life or fished up gear to ports, there would still be no incentives for actions that mean extra work for them in terms of sorting or storing waste fishing gear on board other than ad-hoc actions organised by local authorities.

In addition, increases in port fees due to the need for additional waste management facilities, such as for separate collection and sorting in PRFs would result in cost increases for fishers notably in small fishing ports which currently have either no, or very small PRFs. This is already being flagged as a potential issue in the on-going negotiations on the revised PRF Directive. Nor would there be specific incentives for organising dedicated waste and recycling stream for fishing gear once returned to port, mechanisms to share best practice and increase efficiency of retrieval operations 76 or development of more environmentally-friendly gear. Finally, current measures address the return to ports only, but do not address the overall aspects of treating waste fishing gear outside the context of port reception facilities, such as in aquaculture installations.

5.2.4.1.Extended Producer Responsibility

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a policy approach under which producers are responsible for the separate collection and subsequent transportation and treatment of products at the end of their life. It allows environmental costs, including costs of waste gear recovery and recycling, to be internalised by “polluters”. Establishing an extended producer responsibility scheme could be a mechanism to support improved waste management services for fishing gear waste, including separate collection, sorting and cleaning, recycling, education and awareness, research and possibly even facilitate retrieval operations for lost fishing gear. This would be an additional measure to financially support the appropriate return, separate collection and subsequent treatment of waste fishing gear. This would reduce the cost for ports of management of waste gear returned to port and consequently would have a softening impact on any potential increases of port fees affecting the fishing sector as a result of the revised PRF Directive. In doing so, it enables full realisation of the expected positive impact of the revised PRF Directive on increasing the returning of fishing gear. It also involves fishers and fishing gear producers in taking full responsibility for the environmental impact of their gear whilst ensuring fair distribution of costs.

Although no EPR schemes yet exist for plastics used in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors, within the framework of marine environmental law there are compensation schemes (i.e. Civil liability and Fund Conventions regulating compensation for oil pollution damage caused by tankers). These schemes also include subsidiary or 'top-up' liability for cases where the actual polluter is not known (such as the oil industry's IOPC Funds, 2018). EPR schemes may shift consumption away from harmful products or discourage the use and/or abandonment of plastic components of fishing gear, which are easily damaged during use, e.g. plastic dolly rope, and polystyrene floats and buoys not sealed in a protective cover.

Despite EPR being, in theory, an individual obligation, in practice producers and manufacturers often exert this responsibility collectively, including in how fees are set, modulated, and passed on to users. In cases where the product market is competitive, fees are often absorbed by the producers rather than passed on wholesale to users. In collective schemes, a Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO) is set up, either by producers or through legislation, to implement the EPR principle on behalf of all the adhering companies (the obligated industry). It then becomes responsible for meeting the recovery and recycling obligations of the individual producers.

The responsibility of the producer could include:

·handling the waste stream. The producers are responsible for the separate collection of the material from the port and transporting it for treatment (recycling, incineration or landfilling) and related monitoring obligations under the applicable waste legislation. It would operate in a similar way to the Icelandic Recycling Fund 77 (Úrvinnslusjóður) which is funded by a levy on imported goods or local production.

·a deposit scheme. The producers are responsible for administering and financing a scheme whereby fishermen are paid for the return of end-of-life, damaged gear or fragments of gear. In order to reduce administrative costs, the amount returned would not distinguish between different gears or plastics but rather be determined by the weight of litter returned with the sole proviso that it be fishing gear. The deposit would be included in the price of gear. A scheme in Korea whereby fishers are paid for gear returned to port is reported to be "highly effective in terms of recovery and disposal of gear" 78 .

·achieving a target for recycling of fishing gear.

·the organisation of retrieval operations. This would include maintenance of a database of lost gear and retrieval operations including their cost, duration and success rate which would guide subsequent retrieval operations.

5.2.4.2.Product design and distribution

This would include a potential ban or levy on materials susceptible to loss and/or difficult to recycle and substitution of plastic products in fisheries such as plastic feedbags in aquaculture or polystyrene fish boxes. This measure would achieve a phase-out or reduction in consumption of the use of materials that are difficult to recycle (e.g. combination cordage i.e. that made of mixed materials) or susceptible to loss and/or abrasion (e.g. dolly rope). It could be particularly appropriate for fish aggregating devices (FAD) which float and drift with currents and are difficult to locate and recover. The particular challenge of biodegradability may apply to a lesser extent as the conditions under which the material should operate and degrade are known.

5.2.4.3.The options

These measures can be grouped into three options that are not mutually exclusive.

Option 3a

Extended Producer Responsibility for handling waste stream

Option 3b

Extended Producer Responsibility including deposit on fishing gear

Extended Producer Responsibility with a recycling target

Option 3c

Extended Producer Responsibility for coordinating retrieval

6.Analysis of impacts

6.1.Types of impacts

Environmental impacts

Estimates are provided for the main environmental benefit, by looking at the reduction in plastic marine littering rates. Reductions in marine littering from SUP will often be associated with reductions in terrestrial littering and lead to changes in production, and improved waste prevention. This leads to changes in greenhouse gas emissions.

The focus on reducing plastic marine litter could have unintended consequences (are you switching to something that causes different problems?). Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) was undertaken to compare the environmental impacts of the alternatives to SUP, both non-plastic single use and multi-use items. The main parameters show a decrease in impacts, though for some options, there might be a minor increase in land use due to a switch to paper and wood.

Monetised estimates of the environmental impacts are provided where possible but need to be treated with caution. In particular, direct comparisons between the figures used for fishing gear and SUP should not be made given the different methodologies and assumptions used.

Economic and social impacts

Measures to reduce the littering of single use plastic, especially regulatory measures, will entail some compliance costs, falling both on the public and on the private sector, and perhaps being passed on to consumers, to ensure implementation and enforcement. The extent will depend on the choice and the exact design of the measures to be implemented 79 .

6.2.Analysis of Single Use Plastic Sub-options

6.2.1.Approach

Single use plastics is analysed on a product-by-product basis. While section 5 went through the four steps related to building sub-options, section 6 examines how they were analysed.

Step 5: The model was populated with baseline data covering baseline growth rates for consumption of the different products, recycling assumptions, littering rates etc. For the SUPs considered here, the total tonnage of items ending up as litter is 270,174 tonnes, while the tonnage of items flushed sums to 41,896 tonnes. Of this 312,070 tonnes of items, the amount then entering the marine environment is calculated to be around 15,604 tonnes of SUP in the baseline option (option 1). Less than 5% of plastic land litter ends up as plastic marine litter.

The model is an adapted waste model. Some mass flow aspect, e.g. and in average on littering, were used for the modelling work under the Plastics Strategy. This was built upon for the different products, as waste models do not normally model down to such a specific product level as e.g. stirrers. Baseline projections reflect trend analysis and the impact of recycling and landfill target rates specified in EU legislation. Many of the waste management related impacts, including externalities, were taken from the European Environment Agency’s ‘European Reference Model on Municipal Waste Management’, which has been developed over the last 10 years, and thoroughly tested. This was complemented by further LCA studies of the different products and possible alternatives.

Step 6: Modelling assumptions were made about the costs and impacts of different measures. This involved an examination of a ‘ladder’ for each product (see Annex 6). This allows for estimation of impacts throughout the economy. Important assumptions for SUP are how different measures affect littering rates, consumption rates (and the split between SUP and alternatives both multi use and non-plastic). This needs to reflect the impact of different measures on the different pathways and underlying drivers. In addition, the costs to different actors needs to be estimated for each of the different measures. These assumptions are based on literature review and past experience. Changing them would not change significantly the conclusions of the assessment.

Step 7: The different measures were modelled and results presented for the four sub-options. Each of these sub-options results in different environmental, economic and social impacts, which are modelled compared to the baseline scenario.

6.2.2.Results of the environmental analysis

Sub-option 2d leads to the largest reduction in plastic marine litter. Reduction estimates were first made by weight (tonnes) and then translated into items by count.

Table 11. Percentage reduction for Top 10 SUP compared to the baseline (by weight & count)

By weight

By count

Sub-option 2a

21%

16%

Sub-option 2b

32%

50%

Sub-option 2c

35%

56%

Sub-option 2d

82%

74%

Table 12. Percentage reduction by count and by item (millions of items)

Item

Marine litter, millions of items, predicted in 2030

Scenario 2a

Scenario 2b

Scenario 2c

Scenario 2d

Cigarette filters

4,778

-693

-2,628

-2,628

-3,703

Wet wipes

775

-112

-112

-112

-388

Straws

372

-102

-330

-372

-372

Cotton buds

95

-12

-62

-62

-62

Drinks bottles

182

-34

-23

-157

-157

Sanitary towels

252

-30

-37

-37

-90

Drinks cups and lids

146

-27

-113

-113

-132

Crisp packets

74

-11

-41

-41

-41

Food containers

64

-18

-50

-50

-58

Cutlery

18

-5

-14

-18

-18

Stirrers

20

-5

-18

-20

-20

Grand Total

6,776

-1,049

-3,426

-3,609

-5,041

Estimates of external costs are provided. These are significant with, for example, sub-option 2c having reduced costs (benefits) of €11.1 billion Euros in 2030 (these calculations use monetised estimates of disamenity from litter in particular and are only partly financial benefits).

Figure 9. Environmental impacts a) Changes in GHG Emission (million tonnes CO2 equivalent); b) changes in external costs, €billion

6.2.3.Results of the economic analysis

Half of global plastics production is located in Asia and 19% in Europe. Analysis suggests that most single use plastic items are produced outside Europe. In the context of generally buoyant and increasing demand for plastic products, producers (plastics converters) are likely to be negatively affected by any reduction in demand for single use products but they have an opportunity to redirect production to reusable and recyclable items.

There is no detailed information on what proportion of the products put on the market by EU and non-EU plastics converters is composed of the items identified as most likely to be littered, and so it is difficult to see how impacts fall in or outside the EU. The sector is expanding, so the possibilities to divert from production of low-value disposable SUP products to other markets are therefore clear. Higher value products for construction, insulation, agriculture, automotive, telecommunications and electronics industries tend to be made with other types of plastic (PE, PVC, PUR, PS and others) which account for more than 70% of EU demand from plastics converters.

Trade figures suggest that Asia accounts for about 57% of global exports of disposable plastic tableware, compared to just over 25% for the EU, with Asia the primary source of most SUP items. Table 11 provides an overview of production sources for SUP. There is less information on where the production of multi-use plastics and, especially, non-plastic alternatives will come from but there could be future opportunities for EU markets (see Annex 6). For the alternative materials for single use items, innovations and solutions could come from the bio-economy.

Table 13. Production sources for SUP

Item

Production scenario

Cigarette filters

Acetate tow is produced by five main companies, based in the US, Japan and Germany. It is undetermined where cigarettes are principally produced.

Drinks bottles

Drinks bottles are mainly produced and filled at factories within the EU.

Cotton buds

Europe is a net importer of cotton buds. Countries in the Asia-Pacific region (specifically China, India, Taiwan and the Philippines) and the US are the major manufacturers of cotton buds, due to labour costs and/or the availability of cotton.

Crisps / sweets

Flexible packaging is produced in rolls that are used in product manufacturing plants to make crisps packets and sweet wrappers. The original flexible material is mainly produced in the EU.

Wet wipes

The majority of nonwoven wipes used in the EU are produced in the geographical region of Europe. The report includes Turkey within this region, who is a major producer of nonwoven wipes for Europe, so further analysis is needed to determine whether wet wipes production is centred within the EU or the non-EU geographical region.

Sanitary towels

The European geographical region is a net exporter of hygiene products such as sanitary towels.

Cutlery

These items are predominantly and increasingly imported from the Asia-Pacific region into Europe. For example, Huhtamaki, one of the principal food service packaging businesses in Europe, owns 14 manufacturing centres in India. An internet search for suppliers of plastic stirrers by location reveals 127 suppliers located in the EU, compared with 214,112 in China, 4,982 in Honk Kong and 1025 in Vietnam. Industry estimates on balloon sticks suggest that more than 50% come from China, but that between 50 and 75% of balloons on the EU market (total market of about €540m p.a.) are manufactured in the EU.

Straws

Stirrers

Drinks cups

Drinks cup lids

Food containers

Balloon sticks

Overall, producers’ turnover would fall under option 2 relative to option 1, but not significantly compared to the market size; and, much of this production takes place outside the EU.

Figure 10. Producer Turnover (2030), € billion (2018 prices)

For food and drink related items (food containers, cups and cup lids, cutlery, straws and stirrers), the food service (HoReCa) industry and retailers pay for the single use plastic items that they provide to customers ‘free of charge’. Although the cost might not be evident to customers, the consumer will normally cover it in the overall price. With a shift to reusable items, a single upfront purchase by the retailer will avoid future regular costs of purchasing the single use items, and thus may lead to a saving.

There will be a cost to providing reusable items for consumption on site, but savings from not providing single use items. The balance of the costs and savings will vary for different retailers and determine whether a switch away from SUP can ‘pay for itself’ over time. However, the shift to non-plastic single use alternatives may lead to an increase in costs to retailers if these are more expensive, and if they do not to pass these costs on to consumers.

For other single use items such as wet wipes, sanitary towels, and cotton buds, that retailers sell on directly to customers (rather than use to contain the food or drink they are selling), the impacts will vary based on the difference between the wholesale price and the retail price of the non-plastic single use alternative. Where retailers sell multi-use alternatives, while the number of sales will be lower, the effect on profits will depend on the per item margin that the retailer makes versus the margin on the current single use plastic items.

For retailers engaged in a deposit refund scheme, there will be costs to operating refill schemes, or from washing items. However, these costs may be compensated through the receipt of handling fees for every used beverage container returned.

Waste prevention will lead to some savings of waste treatment for public authorities (where public authorities cover such costs). Reduced levels of litter also mean reduced costs of litter collection and management. Recycling costs generally fall, but are forecast to increase under some measures, such as where DRS for beverage containers is introduced. Overall, costs increase across the scenarios, and are much higher for scenario 2d because of the assumption that screens are fitted as best practice for WWTW.

The figures below show a) the costs for businesses of complying and the cost of washing and refill schemes (not shown are information campaign costs, that may be paid for by Member States or business) and b) the change in waste management costs (including sewerage treatment). These are partial estimates – other businesses will benefit from production of alternatives, and there will be direct savings that offset (partially or fully) some of the costs.

Figure 11. a) Business compliance and commercial washing and refill costs, € million (2018 prices) b) Waste management costs, € million (2018 prices)

There are likely to be financial benefits for consumers. When consumers use their own MU items, they will need washing in order to keep them clean and usable. Therefore, there may be some additional costs from washing the items. However, as they are no longer purchasing many SUP items, the overall cost is likely to fall. For individual consumers, the impacts will vary depending on their consumption habits and their own pre-existing preferences in respect of using reusable items. For example, a nudging policy might be to expand consumer choice by making tap water an available alternative to having to buy (or at least feeling that one has no choice but to buy) bottled water.

These elements need to be compared with convenience for consumers. However, as seen with the plastic bags Directive, the large majority of consumers will accept stringent measures in order to reduce marine litter, in particular when alternatives are available.

Figure 12. Consumer savings, € billion (2018 prices)

Most of the 50,000 companies in the plastic converters sector in the EU (who take plastic resin, in the form of pellets, powders and flakes and turn it into products and packaging) are SMEs. The effect upon them will depend upon whether their business is dependent upon SUPs, and their ability to switch to manufacturing other plastic items. As stated above, for many SUP items the majority of production takes place outside the EU.

Many retailers, especially in food service retail, are SMEs. They may be positively impacted where they avoid the need to purchase single use items that accompany or contain the food or drink they sell. Whilst reduced consumer spending will translate almost into reduce retail sales, there will be rebalancing as consumers spend their money on alternatives, and favour innovative responses. New business models will develop for making available multi use items to consumers and this could reduce costs, especially as options are scaled up.

One of the key aspects that business frequently calls for is a clear policy steer. The European Commission’s Plastics Strategy has been expected for some time, and some producers have already begun anticipating and considering their options. For example, some restaurant chains are already phasing out plastic drinking straws, voluntary actions such as refill schemes are becoming more widespread, and a growing number of Member States are considering introducing deposit refund schemes for beverage containers.

Social impacts

Some small changes in employment are expected. Employment impacts are most positive with a switch to more labour-intensive practices (such as refillable take-away box schemes). These offset reduction in staffing at manufacturing related to decreased turnover. The nature and location of any impact will also depend on where saved money is spent by consumers, and whether alternative products are produced inside or outside Europe. However, given the uncertainty around employment impacts and the possibility of rebound effects, the overall impacts on employment are not seen as significant.

Overall impacts

The modelling of the sub-options reflects an assessment of how adequately measures would address the underlying drivers and pathways of marine litter. In the baseline scenario, the evolution of two specific drivers towards an increase in marine litter, may outweigh the others, namely “wide availability of plastic as a cheap and convenient option for single use applications” and “consumer trend for convenience”. Hence, the impact of proposed measures on these two drivers is especially important:

·Scenario 2a would address the drivers in a limited way. Information campaigns, voluntary actions and labelling could increase general awareness (e.g. on the litter issue, typical pathways, correct disposal), and thus consumer behaviour, including the trend for convenience. However, it is unclear what the outcome will be as there is little evidence of such awareness actually changings those people’s behaviour.

·Scenario 2b and 2c would address the underlying drivers more adequately, as they go further to change consumer behaviour. Product design measures for drink bottles for tethered caps would have a direct impact on the leakage of caps into the environment. Reduction or ban of SUP items would have a positive impact on collection rates. In cases of items still leaking into the environment, damage would be mitigated when using alternatives, which are fully biodegradable under marine conditions. Well-functioning EPR schemes covering the full cost of littering crisp packets and sweet wrappers, together with cigarette filters, drink bottles, wet wipes sanitary towels and food containers would improve the management and infrastructure for collection and sorting, and address the market failure for this segment for which alternatives are currently limited. When combined with modulated fees, an EPR scheme could shift from SUP to reusable or single use alternatives, directly affecting the availability of plastics, and the linked consumer behaviour.

·Sub-option 2c offers a higher effectiveness than sub-option 2b in terms of reducing plastic marine litter, but with additional costs (though much smaller than the difference between 2d and 2c). The additional advantage of 2c over 2b is that the increased use of bans in 2c sends a clear signal and will work better in ensuring the proper functioning of the internal market by avoiding fragmentation between Member States (some Member States are already acting on items: cutlery, straws and stirrers). A ban that is not foreseen in 2b is also easier for Member States to implement. Monitoring the measures foreseen under option 2 c will also be easier for member States. Alternatives are available, so consumers are expected to accept a ban. Given these advantages, and the fact that increased environmental benefits outweigh the increased costs, 2c is an effective and efficient package of measures and so is the preferred sub-option.

·Scenario 2d would better address the underlying drivers, but at a higher cost (both financial and in the form of ‘hassle’ or possible subsidiarity issues). DRS or equivalent systems would entail additional cost (around 1,4 billion €) but would further reduce marine litter. As already shown in several Member States, deposit systems for beverage bottles have a direct, positive impact on collection and recycling, increasing collection rates and quality of the collected material, and reducing littering rates. Best practices for wastewater treatment works would improve infrastructure, increasing wet wipes collection. The main additional cost in 2d is the additional investment needed to disseminate best practices for urban wastewater collection (around 7.7 billion Euros per annum). This measure is difficult to justify simply to solve the wet wipe issue, but is relevant to a much wider range of pollution releases. The ongoing evaluation of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD) 80 will consider the measure of ‘best practices for WWTW’ in more detail than above, and in a wider context 81 .

All scenarios involve a shift away from SUP towards alternatives. These substitutes could include alternative business models (e.g. reuse with or without deposits), innovative product design (e.g. integrating smaller parts with larger items) and use of other materials (e.g. paper). To avoid unintended consequences regarding economic, environmental and social impact, the transition towards alternatives should be outcome-oriented and have a broad potential solution space. Such an approach would be in line with the Innovation Principle, making the legislative proposal forward-looking (‘future-proofing’) and innovation-friendly.

Clarity is needed on what could be labelled as “alternative”. Material characteristics need to ensure full biodegradability in marine environments, which requires criteria on material degradation and related timeframe relative to the specific environmental conditions. At EU level, there is currently no accepted scientific standard on marine biodegradability which highlights the urgency for the Commission to ask the European Committee for Standardization to develop a separate standard for Marine biodegradability 82 .

Table 12. Summary of model analysis per sub-option

2a

2b

2c

2d

Marine litter by count (as % of SUP Top 10)

-16%

-50%

-56%

-74%

Marine Litter, tonnes

-2,750

-4,450

-4,850

-12,070

Change in GHG, million tonnes

-1.28

-2.02

-2.63

-3.97

External Costs, € billion

-7.1

-9.5

-11.1

-30.9

Savings for consumers, € billion

3.7

5.1

6.5

10.0

Impact on producer turnover, € billion

-1.8

-2.5

-3.2

-5.0

Information campaign costs, € million

714

698

596

596

Business compliance, commercial washing & refill scheme costs, € million

338

1081

1385

2099

Waste management costs, € million

30

445

511

9175

Employment, 000 FTE

-3.8

3.8

4.0

5.0

Feasibility

High

Med

Med

Low

Ensure Internal Market

-

+

++

++

-Impacts are expressed against the baseline option 1 for the year 2030, in current 2018 prices.

-Impacts do not take account of rebound effects.

-GHG emissions are given in million tonnes CO2 equivalent in 2030, for EU changes.

-Externalities are monetised for litter removal (land and sea) using disamentity, and supplemented by LCA analysis.

-Marine litter reductions: figures expressed as a percentage of current litter from Top 10 SUP estimates which is estimated to be 15,604 tonnes per annum in total, with 86% from the Top 10.

-Feasibility represents the technical difficulty and hassle factor of undertaking the different measures for consumers and retailers.

-Analysis of the individual measures making up each of the sub options can be found in Annex 6, Section 2.4 ‘Model Outputs’.

In terms of their effectiveness of reducing plastic marine litter, 2d would be the most effective. However, the cost of 2d is much higher than for 2c (because in particular of the costs associated with improving waste water treatment). For this reason, option 2d is not chosen.

6.3.Impacts for Fishing gear sub-options 1 and 3a and 3b

6.3.1.Option 1 – the baseline of no action over and above those already in the pipeline

The actions underway will already have a positive impact. We will analyse the financial cost of each of these actions and the environmental benefit in terms of reduction of plastic entering the sea. From this we can estimate the economic impact.

a)We can assume that the annual input of marine litter from land, fishing and aquaculture is up to 25,000 tonnes 83 and that the amount of plastic in the ocean represents 10 years of this input, then preventing 1,000 tonnes from entering the sea or fishing out 1,000 tonnes is equivalent to reducing the impact of marine litter by 0.4%.

b)Litter causes damage to fisheries through fouling of propellers, blocked intake pipes and valves, snagging of nets, silting of cod ends and contamination of catch. Efforts to estimate the cost of this to fishers range from 1% 84 to 5% 85 of revenue. For the whole of the EU fleet, this amounts to between €70 million and €350 million per year. Thus, removing one thousand tonnes of litter would have a value to the fishing industry of between €250,000 and €1,000,000 a year.

Similarly, we can calculate the purely economic impact on other activities.

Table 13: Economic benefit of marine litter removal (using impacts from section 1.1.5)

Industry

Harm from marine litter

benefit of removing 1000 tonnes of marine litter or avoiding 1000 tonnes being added through loss/dumping

fishing

Between €60 and €300 million

€250,000 to €1,000,000

ports

€30 million

€100,000

beach tourism

Between €194 and €630 million

€750,000 to €2,500,000

TOTAL

€1,000,000 to €4,000,000

6.3.1.1.Current balance

According to PRODCOM 86 27,000 tonnes of netting have been sold in the EU in 2016 and studies of floating flitter 87 , beach litter 88 and trawls 89 indicates that netting represents significant fraction of plastic material from fishing and aquaculture in the sea; the rest being made up of buoys, pots, feed sacks, gloves, boxes etc. Samples in areas close to shore with high concentrations of aquaculture show significant concentrations of plastic from this source although in other regions this is not the case. For the purposes of this analysis, based on the comparison of available studies we assume an average of 50% is netting. Studies (see annex 7) conclude that best practice currently is in Iceland where 90% of the annual purchase of gear is eventually brought ashore, but over the EU as a whole, the total is only 80%.

Figure 13. Replies by fishermen to question on proportion of gear lost in the open stakeholder consultation

This estimate of gear not brought ashore is a higher proportion than that derived from fishers' reports 90 of lost gillnets 91 . Nevertheless, a significant number of fishers who replied to the open stakeholder consultation as part of this impact assessment reported "some" loss of gear.

The main assumption is that 55.000 tonnes of plastic are used by the fishing and aquaculture sector each year. Of this, around a fifth is lost or discarded and enters the seas as marine litter. A number of measures currently underway or planned will contribute to reducing this figure over the next years.

6.3.1.2.European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

This measure is described for completeness’ sake. In its current form it does not reduce marine litter inflow, but only results in taking litter out of the sea. It is also broader in that it targets all forms of fished-up litter, and not fishing gear specifically. A total of €53.07 million has been allocated by EU Member States under Article 40.1(a) of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund for the "collection of waste by fishermen from the sea such as the removal of lost fishing gear and marine litter" in the years 2014-2020. While the operational programmes do not contain a precise enough breakdown, under the previous European Fisheries Fund a split of the budget going to the different activities is available. Assuming the same breakdown and the same efficiency as the operations, we can estimate the environmental impact in terms of litter removed (Table 14). This activity, also known as "fishing for litter", removes litter that is already in the sea ("the stock").

"Investments in facilities for waste and marine litter collection" can also be supported by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund but as operational programmes bundle this with other activities, it is not possible to identify how much this will amount to 92 .

Table 14: Costs of marine litter removal

Action

Proportion

Annual cost to public budget

Plastic removed annually (tonnes)

Collection of lost fishing gear / 'fishing for litter'

46%

€3,500,000

3,500 93

Litter collectors/bags on board and in port (renting and transport, purchase)

25%

€2,000,000

5,500 94

Treatment/processing of litter

17%

€1,300,000

n.a.

Awareness raising among fishers

5%

€400,000

n.a.

Research related to marine litter

5%

€400,000

n.a.

Recovering/recycling of plastics

2%

€150,000

n.a.

The reduced environmental impact of 9,000 tonnes per year translates to between €10 million and €35 million in economic benefit for fishing, port and tourism industries (see annex 7). The amounts of plastic removed are estimates based on the operations conducted in Norway. These measures are retrieving gear and other plastic lost in previous years and therefore reducing the total mass in the sea but not the annual inflow.

6.3.1.3.Fisheries Control

Two measures under consideration for simplifying the Common Fisheries Policy and improving its implementation through the Fisheries Control Regulation will address the issue of entry of fishing gear into the sea.

Table 15. Fisheries control

Measure

Cost to fishermen

Benefit

Use of electronic logbook for reporting lost gear

Negligible marginal cost because introduced at the same time as other modifications to logbook

More accurate reporting and improved effectiveness of recovery operations. Efficiency of these operations varies considerably. A 20% increase in efficiency would add 350 tonnes per year to operations funded under EMFF and a similar amount to the amount recovered in option 3c

Removal of the current derogation applicable to vessels < 12m to carry on board the necessary equipment for the retrieval of lost gear.

€50 million, half the 50,000 vessels in the EU fleet under 12 metres need to spend around €2,000 on winches

Recovery of gear that otherwise would have been abandoned may become possible. There is no information on how much is being retrieved at present (see section 2.2.2).

6.3.1.4.Revision of Port Reception Facilities Directive

The proposed revision of the Port Reception Facilities Directive will turn a number of operations currently financed under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund into "business as usual".

Table 16. Port Reception facilities

Measure

Cost

Benefit in terms of reduction of annual inflow of fishing gear

Benefit in terms of fishing gear and other plastic lost in previous years

100% indirect fee, so no additional financial cost for bringing waste, including passively fished waste, ashore*

* There may be additional costs in the case of smaller, particularly fishing ports which will now need facilities and may need to raise ports fees to pay for them.

-€2,000.000 because the expenditure under OSPAR, KIMO and EMFF schemes to collect, monitor and count litter brought ashore would no longer be necessary or targeted differently.

Equivalent to 2,700 tonnes year (see annex 7)

Equivalent to 2,700 tonnes year (see annex 7)

Member States have to ensure that adequate PRF are available in their fishing ports to deal with this waste in accordance with the waste hierarchy (this includes separate collection of the waste delivered)

Impact assessment for Port Reception Facilities 95  indicates little change in litter brought ashore; although interviews with fishers indicate that current poor facilities may be a disincentive

Inspection targets for vessels greater than 100 GT and reporting of the advance waste notification made obligatory for fishing vessels longer than 45 metres.

Limited (80% of the EU fishing fleet is below 100GT and/or 45m)

The reduced environmental impact of approximately 5,500 tonnes per year 96 translates to between €6 million and €20 million in economic benefit for fishing, port and tourism industries. Additional costs such as the possible increase in port fees due to implementation of the PRF Directive are difficult to estimate at this point, but would be borne by the sector in the absence of any additional and/or burden sharing mechanism.

6.3.1.5.Member States Programmes of Measures under the MSFD

Table 17. Member State measures

Measure

Cost

Benefit

Programmes of measures to achieve GES by 2020, including a reduction of lost fishing gear found at sea

Zero. These measures are already included under other options

Better monitoring of marine litter

6.3.1.6.FAO Guidelines

Table 18. FAO Guidelines

Measure

Cost

Benefit

Authorities should introduce or marking of gear, a register of gear by the authorities and sharing of information between authorities

Zero. Implementation would already be covered by the Control Regulation and its proposed revision

Zero over and above what is already being done

6.3.2.Option 3a – Medium level of impact 97  

6.3.2.1.Extended Producer Responsibility – Basic scheme

This assumes that the producers of plastic material incorporated in fishing and aquaculture gear have responsibility for setting up an organisation to ensure that waste is collected at port, sent to appropriate recycling facilities, incineration plants or landfill sites and reporting.

Table 19. Extended Producer Responsibility- basic

Measure

Costs estimated in study for this impact assessment (annex 7)

Benefit

Gear producers have responsibility for taking back end-of-life fishing and aquaculture gear

€9.7 million

Annual cost for sorting, transport and processing

Specific reduction by this measure: 2600 tonnes per year (see annex 7).

This adds to actions already underway/planned 98

Therefore, total cumulative reduction of ALDFG litter (including impact of Port Reception Facilities Directive) 5,500 tonnes per year.

€6.3 million

Set-up costs

€1.3 million

annual administrative costs

This option would add a maximum of about 4% to the cost of gear, under the unlikely assumption that producers would pass all costs on to users. The extra cost is 0.16% of annual revenue of the EU fishing fleet. The reduced environmental impact of 2,000 tonnes per year translates to between €2 million and €7 million in economic benefit for fishing, port and tourism industries. Note that the cumulative benefit achieved through the combination with other measures listed above would be much higher.

The establishment of an EPR scheme for fishing gear should, in addition, be considered in its interaction with the overall legislative framework. In particular, EPR schemes take over costs for the separate collection and treatment of waste which otherwise fall on the port facility which in turn passes these costs through to ship operators including fishers as part of the indirect fee. The establishment of EPR schemes for fishing gear would therefore reduce ports costs, and correspondingly port fees, related to the treatment of fishing gear. The costs impact would be most notably relevant in small fishing ports which currently have either no, or very small PRFs.

6.3.3.Option 3b – High level of impact

6.3.3.1.Extended Producer Responsibility - with Deposit Return Scheme

This is a scheme whereby a deposit is included in the price of the gear that is being purchases, but is then paid back to the fishermen by weight of fishing gear brought ashore as waste including complete nets, fragments of nets and other plastic fishing gear including buoys, pots etc. Whilst the revised Port Reception Facilities Directive removes disincentives for bringing waste ashore, this would provide a positive incentive to do so.

This would also be complementary to, and add to the impact of, the strengthened provisions of the revised control regulation, which aim to strengthen marking, retrieval, and reporting of loss. In particular, it would provide an incentive for anglers to return fishing gear waste to shore, leading to higher compliance with both these instruments. Finally, it would ensure adequate disposal, and insertion into the waste stream, of fishing gear waste, adding to the potential of re-use or recycling of the plastic material and potentially reducing overall cost.

Table 14. Extended Producer Responsibility- deposit return

Measure

Cost

Benefit

Fishers refunded for returning end of life or fished up fishing gear material (e.g. with manufacturers directly, via a port collection facility etc.)

The study in annex 7 estimates that that the set-up and administrative costs would be three times that of the simple EPR referenced under 6.3.2.1. The costs below are in addition to those in that option.

Can be assumed to reduce the amount of lost gear to the truly irrecoverable 5%.

Reduction of ALDFG inflow into the sea by 2,600 tonnes per year over and above the other measures

€12 million

set-up costs

€2.6 million

administrative costs

This option would add over 5% to the cost of gear (or 0.2% of revenue). The reduced environmental impact of 2,500 tonnes per year provides between €3 million and €10 million in economic benefit for fishing, port and tourism industries. A successful scheme in Europe could be rolled out elsewhere, thus providing jobs for the service companies running the scheme.

6.3.3.2.Recycling target

Apart from fishing gear in most cases not being pure and clean, other characteristics may make it more challenging to recycle. For example, most fishing nets consist of several separate parts and hence of several types of plastics and material which will not all to the same degree be fit for recycling. In addition, the value of the different types of material can differ rendering for example only the recycling of specific parts economically feasible. Case in point is the Nylon 6/polyamide retrieval from fishnets, which is currently used as base material for i.a. clothing.

Table 15. Recycling target

Measure

Cost

Benefit

Member States have target for recycling

Zero. Once the litter is brought into proper waste management system, the relative costs of landfill, incineration and recycling are similar.

Administration costs would already be taken care of in option 1a, the basic EPR system

There would be no direct benefit in terms of reduced litter inflow to the sea. However, adding recycling targets can add incentives for action aimed at increasing the amount of fishing gear brought back to shore.

Nevertheless, this option – in combination with an EPR which could stimulate its development – could provide an additional incentive for producers to undertake measures leading to the collection and reprocessing of returned gear, some of which may generate additional income. It has already and will continue to lead to innovation in the form of encouraging the production of recycled products made from fishing gear material 99 , and provides an incentive and critical mass, which will to reduce the costs of recycling, and may also contribute to reducing the overall costs of an EPR. It also is in line with the overall objectives of the circular economy initiative, which aims at reducing landfill, and incineration and increasing re-use of resources and raw materials.

6.3.4.Option 3c – Maximum level of impact 

6.3.4.1.Extended producer Responsibility - with included retrieval operations

Without retrieval actions, the amount of litter from fishing in the sea will continue to increase because, whatever measures are taken to avoid loss of gear, some will always escape. In addition, given the long lifetime of plastic, even a modest annual input of litter will accumulate. In this option we assume that the extended producer responsibility covers the administrative costs of monitoring and the actual recovery by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund or its successor.

Table 16. Extended Producer Responsibility- with retrieval

Measure

Cost

Benefit

Producer of plastic incorporated in fishing gear has responsibility for supporting retrieval actions

€3 million to set up and 500,000 per year for operations

More effective recovery of lost gear and the possibility of reducing the amount of plastic in the sea.

This option would also generate job opportunities for the handling, cleaning, and dismantling of fishing gear, not to mention its actual recycling. The retrieval of marine litter in general and fishing gear in particular is already being supported financially including through measures under the EMFF. It is therefore realistic to assume that Member States would continue to make use of such funding opportunities in the future based on their specific needs and circumstances (subsidiarity).

This would be even more relevant in case EPRs for fishing gear were imposed through legislation. The compulsory inclusion of retrieval action as part of an EPR therefore is not likely to provides much added value. The decision on whether or not to launch specific retrieval schemes can be left to Member States under the subsidiarity principle.

6.3.4.2.Substitution of plastic products in fisheries and ban 

Most fishing gear is composed of different materials, of which plastics are an important component. Choices over which materials to use under which circumstances are usually based on characteristics such as the strength, flexibility, durability, buoyancy, price and past experiences in using certain materials or designs. In this way, fishing gear can consist of a heterogeneous compilation of materials with different characteristics. As such, fishers usually opt for the most cost-effective options. Such choices do however, not always reflect the most environmentally friendly options (such as biodegradability in seawater, recyclability of parts and/or possibility to track lost or abandoned gear).

So far, we have no knowledge of materials that both meet the operational requirements for fishing gear as well (or better than) those currently used by the sector, and at the same time do not have the potential to cause long-term harm to the environment if lost or abandoned at sea 100 . It is thus not possible to propose such a measure, let alone estimate its cost or impact.

6.3.5.Comparison of Impacts

The annual reduction in marine litter exceeds the current volume entering the sea, reflecting the fact that plastic already in the sea will be removed by the measures put in place.

Table 17. Comparison of impacts for fishing gear – NB – the impacts are cumulative

Measure

Investment cost (€ million)

Annual running cost € million

Annual reduction input to sea from fishing gear (tonnes)

Annual extraction of fishing gear and other plastic from previous years (tonnes)

Private

Public

Private

Public

EMFF

7.8

9,000 101

Control Regulation

50.0

350

Port Reception Facilities

-2

2,700 102

2.700

Marine Directive

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

10.0

1.3

2,600

EPR with deposit 103

12.0

2.6

2,600

Recycling target

EPR with retrieval 104

3.0

0.5

Substitution of material



7.Preferred Option

The option with the highest potential to deliver ambitious environmental results, while achieving positive economic impacts, limiting negative effects on employment, ensuring public acceptance, and contributing to wider resource efficiency would be sub-option 2c and sub-option 3a. Whilst estimates of marine litter volumes need to be treated with caution, the preferred measures could significantly reduce marine litter from single use plastics and fishing gear. These are the main sources of plastic marine litter in Europe, accounting for 84 per cent of European plastics entering the marine environment by count, which is the best indicator of the environmental, social and economic impacts. The measures on fishing gear will also lead to the removal of some plastics already in the seas.

The option includes additional measures for SUP and fishing gear and fills gaps in EU level action including legislation that are only partially closed by recent efforts such as the revision of the Port Reception Facilities Directive, the revised waste legislation, the Plastic Bags Directive, and measures in the Plastics Strategy. Figure 13 shows the preferred option grouped by different items.

Figure 14. Preferred choice (2c and 3a)

7.1.Recommended option for SUP 

The recommended option would reduce SUP marine litter by half and includes:

·bans on the placing on the market of single use plastic versions of cotton bud sticks, balloon sticks, cutlery, straws and stirrers;

·reduction targets for single use plastic versions of drinks cups and lids, wet wipes, and food containers: 30% by 2025 and 50% by 2030;

·Extended Producer Responsibility schemes to contribute to the cost of prevention, waste management, including clean-up of litter for the items that are not packaging such as cigarette filters, sanitary applications including wet wipes, drinks cups and lids, food containers, balloons.

·for those items that are considered to be packaging, as defined under the Packaging Directive, the existing Extended Producer Responsibility will be extended to cover the clean-up cost.

·labelling requirements for sanitary towels, wet wipes and balloons; and

·product design measures for drink bottles related to tethered caps.

Setting EU-wide targets for different SUP would 'guide' measures to be adopted by Member States, ensuring that they are ambitious enough to achieve the desired effect. The costs to implement these targets will ultimately depend on the choice and design of the measures adopted at national level. Section 5 highlighted a wide range of complementary measures that can be used in a targeted way. In particular:

-There is continuing successful experience with the use of behavioural ‘nudge’ policies that could be used to shift consumer behaviour, and lead to efficient reductions. Analysis of behavioural economics suggests that consumers face scarcity of time and attention, and already receive too much labelling and information. Instead, it suggests that a more bottom-up approach would be working more actively with different actors (this would indirectly translate into natural awareness-raising initiatives through social networks and the press). Indeed, behavioural insights suggest that social norms and myopia – among other behavioural biases – apply in this context. Bottom-up campaigns – by making visible the environmentally friendly behaviour of the progressive group - would be more appropriate to activate virtuous behaviour via social norms.

-Businesses (both producers and retailers) are showing a willingness to pledge voluntary action. The preferred option will send a clear policy signal and reward early action.

This combination of measures relating to each type of single use plastic item reflects the messages from the public consultation, stakeholder workshops and the conference. It is coherent with the view in the public consultation that legislative requirements to better design or to produce with materials with low life cycle impact are generally the most effective approach, followed by reduction targets. It strikes a balance between measures, recognising the effectiveness of reduction targets for drinks cups and food containers, and EPR schemes for several types of items.

7.2.Recommended option for fishing gear 

The recommended option for fishing and aquaculture gear is the introduction of an Extended Producer Responsibility for producers of fishing gear containing plastic.

This option has overall the highest potential impact on the reduction of the ALDFG contribution to marine litter. It builds on, complements and facilitates full implementation of action under option 1. It would underpin and facilitate full implementation of other instruments. In particular, it adds the specific support of a producer-financed dedicated mechanism targeting the collection and treatment of waste fishing gear as an additional incentive for the return and collection of waste fishing gear to port, which is already the object of both the Control Regulation and the revised Port Reception Facilities Directive. It can notably contribute to easing cost burdens for small scale ports and/or fishing operators by ensuring that some or all of the costs linked to increased collection and treatment of litter from fishing gear in ports, and treatment beyond the framework of the PRF Directive, is taken over by the producers of fishing gear.

This type of positive incentive was seen by the majority of stakeholders as the most effective means of reducing the loss of gear into the sea.

Setting up an extended producer responsibility scheme for fishing gear containing plastic implies a cost which, if it were passed on to the fishing sector, would be marginal with regard to its overall turnover (≈0.16%). Experience shows that in competitive markets (for fishing gear materials, 60% of the material is imported) producers tend to absorb all or part of the EPR scheme’s costs. It is therefore unlikely that the full cost of the EPR scheme would be passed on to fishing operators. In addition, current provisions under EU funding instruments, notably the EMFF, also allow Member States to finance actions leading to the reduction of the accumulation of lost fishing gear in the marine environment. This type of financial support, if taken in addition to the EPR would allow to offset initial costs of the above EPR scheme, both for producers, for local administrations, and for fishers.

In sum therefore, a genuine reduction in costs for fishers as compared to the baseline scenario should be expected. Finally, and in line with the Plastics Strategy’s objective of integrating and completing EU action on plastics and marine litter, the EPR would be integrated as appropriate with the management of port reception facilities, including by contributing to its costs.

Option 1, which consists of the full implementation of existing measures and proposal already on the table, will lead to progress in reducing the amount of fishing gear litter ending up in the sea.

·In particular and as noted before, the revised Port Reception Facilities Directive would reduce disincentives for fishers to bring gear and other litter back to port. As stated explicitly by the Commission in its proposal for a revision of the Port Reception Facilities Directive, additional measures for reducing lost or abandoned fishing gear, were still being examined from the outset, such as Extended Producer Responsibility 105 . Such additional measures can ensure the treatment of plastic components of fishing gear in a dedicated waste management cycle, including the potential re-use or recycling, with the advantages set out above. Without this next step however, the envisaged encouragement of fishers to return gear to shore under the measures set out under the PRF Directive may not yield maximum returns, because in a number of cases notably affecting the small scale fishing sector and smaller ports, the increased port fees may have an impact on the fishers.

Option 3b, which consists of strengthening even further the proposal for an EPR by adding a deposit scheme and a recycling target would further enhance the level of return of gear. It is however more costly to implement potentially increasing costs for the sector whilst also increasing administrative burden. In addition, in the case of fishing gear, and as opposed to land-based plastic material, the risk of losing the deposit is relatively high, potentially diminishing its impact as an incentive.

Setting a recycling target would on balance create complexities in defining such a target, administrative burden and costs of its monitoring would be considered disproportionate – in particular where setting up an EPR scheme in itself is already likely to stimulate the development of the current small market for the recycling of fishing gear materials.

Option 3c includes the obligation to fund a compulsory retrieval scheme for fishing gear under the EPR, is considered to be:

·Disproportionate, in that it makes compulsory to finance a measure which is based on voluntary participation and is currently being supported by i.a. EU financial instruments, support which will in all likelihood continue and be strengthened in the future.

·Potentially duplicative, to the extent that gear retrieval is included as an obligation in the proposal for a revision of the Control Regulation under the Common Fisheries Policy

7.3.Nature of the instrument

The decision to favour a dedicated legislative instrument (lex specialis) was motivated by:

·some existing legal instruments are general in their objectives, and their measures to tackle marine litter do not specifically target products so this would go beyond their original scope;

·other instruments are too narrow in their scope to address the identified ten SUPs, such as in the case of the Packaging directive that regulates only packaging (but even then has specific targeted measures only for one SUP item, namely plastic bags);

·fishing gear is already subject to a regulatory regime spread across different EU policies - fisheries, transport (PRF) and environmental policies (e.g. WFD, MFSD). None of the existing legal acts could reflect the wide variety of measures foreseen in the new instrument to effectively target the marine problem upstream.

·a dedicated legal instrument to address a specific waste stream (i.e. a sub-group of plastic waste) or environmental risks of a specific activity (e.g. the landfill directive that addresses one of many disposal operations - the landfilling of waste) is common in the waste legal regulatory framework (e.g. directives on batteries, packaging).

The possibility of amending existing legislation was considered. In view of the wide variety of measures in the preferred option, it would require the amendment of several existing legal instruments, such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive, the Waste Framework Directive, the proposed Port Reception Facilities Directive, or the Fisheries Control Regulation. The approach to amend multiple legal acts would lead to further fragmentation of the legal framework and bring more confusion and complexity for the Member States, economic operators and consumers in terms of transposition and implementation.

With regard to the nature of the legal act, a Directive is the appropriate legal instrument for the attainment of the envisaged objectives and measures. It allows:

·the definition of harmonised and clear objectives (e.g. binding consumption reduction targets) and measures (bans and product requirements for placing on the market, extended producer responsibility that harmonises the level of financial responsibility of producers for prevention and waste management objectives) that will ensure a level playing field across the Member States in terms of scope and ambition of action;

·Member States - for some but not all measures - to choose the most appropriate legal, administrative and economic instruments to implement them. This is in line with the subsidiarity principle. Existing legal acts concerning other waste streams but containing similar measures (awareness raising campaigns, consumption reduction targets and extended produce responsibility schemes) also envisage same level of flexibility to Member States to choose the appropriate instruments. More prescriptive instruments to implement the goals and measures would be difficult to justify based on the principle of subsidiarity. The measures targeting products that have alternatives or that justify stricter intervention measures – i.e. marketing restrictions and product and labelling requirements – would leave no room for adapted Member States measures.

Bans on placing on the market, product requirements and labelling requirements are compatible with a Directive and many existing EU waste directives contain such measures. They can be clearly defined to avoid any divergence in their implementation (e.g. by setting clear entry-into-force rules, harmonised labelling rules). On the other hand, a regulation – by the fact that it is addressed to economic operators and should be implementable without specific Member State transposition measures – is incompatible with the measures envisaged in the preferred option, namely consumption reduction targets, EPR and awareness raising campaigns, because they require the adoption of national and even local transposition and implementation measures to complement already existing regulatory regimes.

8.Monitoring and evaluation

8.1.Monitoring and evaluation arrangements 

The main indicator for progress towards meeting the objectives set for this policy initiative will be the beach counts of litter. Member States shall use the methodology developed by the MSFD Technical Group, and as set out in JRC Technical Reports. A revised Commission Decision was adopted in April 2017 establishing criteria and methodological standards for the determination of Good Environmental Status (GES) for marine litter. This Commission Decision requires that litter shall be monitored in the coastline in all cases and may additionally be monitored on the sea surface and the seabed.

At the same time, threshold values are to be established at Union or other levels (regional/sub-regional) for quantities of litter on beaches/water column/seafloor, for litter ingested by marine animals and for adverse effects (entanglement, other types of injury or mortality or health effects, of the species concerned due to litter). These values will be set through a collaborative and inclusive process and will facilitate evaluating effectiveness of measures against specific sources of marine litter.

Work on baselines and thresholds started in 2017. It is not feasible to finalise it and have it reflected in the next reports (expected in October 2018) from Member States (under the MSFD Directive). However, it will be used for the next round of monitoring programmes (2020) and inform the updated programmes of measures (2022) against marine litter.

Monitoring will also be required with regard to measures to reduce the consumption of SUP. The measurement methodology will be established in the waste committee established under EU waste legislation. Where possible it should take advantage of existing EU production and trade databases (PRODCOM 106 and COMEXT 107 ) managed by Eurostat and regularly updated with information provided by Member States. Synergies should also be used with regard to existing reporting mechanisms, in particular, for the measurement and reporting of consumption reduction of plastic bags under the Plastic Bags Directive. 

In line with the principle of subsidiarity, the exact data collection methods will depend on the internal organisation of each Member State and the nature of the implementing instruments chosen, where there is flexibility.

In addition, in accordance with the Waste Framework Directive (as it will be amended in 2018), Member States are obliged to reflect their waste prevention measures in their Waste Prevention Programmes, including measures to monitor and assess their implementation.

With regard to fishing gear, the implementation of the revised Control Regulation will improve the capacity for monitoring and analysing the extent to which fishing gear is returned or lost at sea. In line with the existing legislation, Members States take measures to accurately identify, quantify and track the number of fishing gear being deployed, monitored, set upon and recovered, including via satellite technology; and unique identifiers for fishing gear would allow for tracking and deriving estimates on effort levels. Over and above this, in accordance with the minimum requirements for Extended Producer Responsibility schemes established in the Waste Framework Directive, the producers of fishing gear would be expected to monitor fishing gear placed on the market and waste fishing gear deposited in appropriate port reception facilities and the subsequent waste treatment.

In line with the Interinstitutional Agreement between the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission on Better Law-Making Better Regulation, an evaluation of the legal instrument will be envisaged to assess how the implementation of the legislation.

8.2.Operational objectives

The operational objectives of the initiative are to:

·remove single use plastic versions of cotton bud sticks, balloon sticks, cutlery, straws and stirrers from the market;

·reduce single use plastic versions of drinks cups and lids, wet wipes, and food containers: 30% by 2025 and 50% by 2030;

·reduce marine litter from single use plastic versions of cigarette filters, drinks bottles, crisp packets and sweet wrappers, wet wipes, sanitary applications including wet wipes, drinks cups and lids, food containers, balloons;

·Encourage and facilitate the retrieval of lost fishing gear, in particular by improving the availability and reliability of information on its location and compliance with legal obligations regarding this reporting and retrieval; and

·Maximise the entry of end-of-life gear from the fisheries and aquaculture sector, including retrieved ALDFG, into an efficient waste management regime by setting up adequate incentives, schemes and infrastructures to collect, sort, dismantle, transport and recycle used plastic materials in a cost-effective way.

(1) ‘Plastic’ shall mean a polymer, within the meaning of polymer as defined by Article 3(5) of Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council, to which additives or other substances may have been added
(2) Such as the UN Global Partnership on Marine Litter; action plans put forward by the G7 and the G2; the international ‘Our Ocean Conference’, which the Commission hosted in October 201; a Resolution adopted at the third United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA) held in Nairobi (4-6 December 2017).
(3) Acoleyen et al. (2013)
(4) Marine Anthropogenic Litter, Editors: Bergmann, Melanie, Gutow, Lars, Klages, Michael (Eds.), 2015 Springer, ISBN 978-3-319-16510-3
(5) Based on JRC analysis and further data analysis provided by Eunomia
(6) It is considered that 65% of all the purse seine sets made globally are on FADs (both by distant fishing nations and coastal states). Setting on FADs accounts for nearly 40% of global tuna catches and 50% of global skipjack catches.
(7) COM(2018) 28 final
(8) Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009 of 20 November 2009 establishing a Community control system for ensuring compliance with the rules of the common fisheries policy.
(9) Regulation (EU) No 508/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.
(10) Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on port reception facilities for the delivery of waste from ships, repealing Directive 2000/59/EC and amending Directive 2009/16/EC and Directive 2010/65/EU, COM/2018/033 final - 2018/012 (COD).
(11) At the time of drafting this document, this initiative was only planned but not yet adopted.
(12) https://www.plasticoceans.org/about-film
(13)   http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04tjbtx
(14)  Special Eurobarometer 468 (EC, 2017) 27,881 EU citizens from 28 Member States were interviewed between 23 September and 2 October 2017
(15) Directive (EU) 2015/720
(16) According to Coastwatch beach monitoring data, p.32 in http://ec.europa.eu/environment/marine/good-environmental-status/descriptor-10/pdf/MSFD_identifying_sources_of_marine_litter.pdf
(17) Matiddi et al. 2017:   http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2017.06.054
(18) https://www.marinetechnologynews.com/news/arctic-floating-plastic-547464
(19) Obviously, this is particularly true for the outermost regions that are surrounded by third countries, in particular in the Caribbean Sea.
(20) Van Franeker (2005)
(21) https://www.marinetechnologynews.com/news/arctic-floating-plastic-547464
(22) Public consultation investigating options for reducing releases to the environment of microplastics https://ec.europa.eu/info/consultations/public-consultation-investigating-options-reducing-releases-environment-microplastics_en
(23) “Guidance on Monitoring of Marine Litter in European Seas”, JRC
(24) Commission Decision (EU) 2017/848 of 17 May 2017 laying down criteria and methodological standards on good environmental status of marine waters and specifications and standardised methods for monitoring and assessment, and repealing Decision 2010/477/EU
(25)  See Annex 3 for more detailed discussion
(26)  Pham at al. 2014: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0095839
(27)  It should be underlined that all figures are estimates with a considerable margin of error but that this is particularly the case for microplastics. Also, estimates come from different sources, using different methodologies that are not always consistent. Indeed, as part of the underlying analysis for this Impact Assessment the estimates for plastic marine litter have changed noticeably from the figures available a few years ago.
(28) COM (2018) 33 final, COM (2018) 28 final (PRF Directive proposal, and plastics strategy, respectively)
(29) Jenna R. Jambeck et al. (2015), Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean, Science, 347 (6223), 768-771 (DOI: 10.1126/science.1260352)
(30) https://ec.europa.eu/info/consultations/reducing-marine-litter-action-single-use-plastics-and-fishing-gear_en
(31)      Only around 2,000 of the at least 80000 boats that reach their 'end of use' each year in Europe are dismantled, a significant number of the remaining boats are left abandoned, potentially ending up in the ocean and becoming marine litter (Commission Staff Working Document on Nautical Tourism, SWD(2017) 126 final).
(32) SWD(2018)21
(33) Directive 2000/59/EC
(34) Unger and Harrison "Fisheries as a source of marine debris on beaches in the United Kingdom" Mar Pollut Bull. 2016 Jun 15;107(1):52-58.
(35) Ingeborg G. Hallanger and Geir W. Gabrielsen, 2018 Plastic in the European Arctic 045 Norwegian Polar Intituite Brief Report
(36) JRC Technical Report “Riverine Litter Monitoring - Options and Recommendations”, 2016
(37) www.5gyres.org
(38)  UNEP (2014) Valuing Plastics: The Business Case for Measuring, Managing and Disclosing Plastic Use in the Consumer Goods Industry”
(39) Bergmann, Melanie, Gutow, Lars, Klages, Michael (Eds.), 2015. Marine Anthropogenic Litter, Springer
(40) http://www.kimointernational.org/fishing-for-litter/
(41) https://www.aljazeera.com/news/europe/2011/06/20116771510528902.html
(42)  Eunomia, ongoing.
(43) A fulmar typically weighs 700g, with a stomach only a few cm across meaning that most plastic found in them will be broken up and in small pieces
(44)  Gall, S.C., and Thompson, R.C. (2015) The impact of debris on marine life, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Vol.92, Nos.1–2, pp.170–179
(45) https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/08/150817-sea-turtles-olive-ridley-marine-debris-ocean-animals-science/
(46) https://www.earthtouchnews.com/environmental-crime/pollution/first-a-straw-now-a-fork-turtles-are-choking-on-our-plastic-trash/
(47) The mouth cavity of turtles is lined with tough, backwards facing spines to inhibit the escape of prey; however it means that the animals can egest things only with great difficultly and for this reason, items get lodged in their nasal cavities. http://seaturtleexploration.com/inside-of-a-sea-turtles-mouth/
(48)  de Stephanis, R., Giménez, J., Carpinelli, E., Gutierrez-Exposito, C., and Cañadas, A. (2013) As main meal for sperm whales: Plastics debris, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Vol.69, Nos.1–2, pp.206–214
(49) http://www.chrisjordan.com/gallery/midway/#CF000313%2018x24
(50) Andries, J., and Van Franeker, J. Plastic Soup is Everywhere https://www.wur.nl/upload_mm/0/b/2/020f791b-3b58-4f39-9f08-09924fa9b15d_PLASTIC%20LUNCH-UK.pdf  
(51)  World Economic Forum, Ellen MacArthur Foundation and McKinsey & Company, The New Plastics Economy — Rethinking the future of plastics, (2016, http://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/publications).
(52)  Plastics Strategy, COM(2018) 28
(53) EUNOMIA (2017)
(54) EUNOMIA (2017)
(55) See JRC Technical Report “Identifying sources of marine litter”, 2016 for analyses for different items
(56) Most cities have combined sewer systems where wastewater and storm water are drained in one sewerage system. During heavy rainfalls, volumes of flow are high and water needs to be diverted to combined sewer overflows (CSOs). In some cases they may be discharged without restriction or, pertinent to this case, without extracting small pieces of debris such as a cotton bud.
(57)   http://ec.europa.eu/environment/marine/good-environmental-status/descriptor-10/pdf/MSFD%20Measures%20to%20Combat%20Marine%20Litter.pdf
(58)  Laurent C. M. Lebreton, J. v.-W. (2017, June 7). River plastic emissions to the world’s oceans. Nature Communications, 8.
(59) Christian Schmidt, T. K. (2017, October 11). Export of Plastic Debris by Rivers into the Sea. Environmental Science and Technology, 51(21), 12246–12253.
(60) Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009 of 20 November 2009
(61) Sverinsson (2017). Marine litter. The Icelandic approach to take back of fishing nets
(62) COM(2018)33 final
(63) Explanatory memorandum, section 1
(64) REGULATION (EU) No 508/2014
(65) Detailed requirements are included in the Control Implementing Regulation
(66) REGULATION (EU) No 508/2014
(67) Denmark is one example, KIMO (North Sea) another
(68) Not to be confused with the reduction targets proposed in this Impact assessment for certain items.
(69) Regional Seas Conventions, Directive 2008/56/EC and Directive 2000/60/EC
(70) COM(2015)614 final
(71) COM (2018) 28 final
(72) Explanatory memorandum, section 1
(73) Detailed requirements are included in the Control Implementing Regulation
(74) Currently, few test methods for the assessment of the biodegradation of materials in the marine environment are available from ISO and ASTM. No European CEN test method has been developed so far. Marine biodegradability pre-normative research will be the focus of a H2020 SC2 2019 research topic.
(75) Experience shows that DRS systems are able to reach high levels rates of capture of bottles placed on the market. Equivalent systems could also be set up for instance in combination or in complement to existing EPR systems targeting similar capture rates.
(76) Active fishing for litter operations.
(77)  Gudlaugur Sverrisson, Icelandic Recycling Fund Marine litter – The Icelandic approach to take back of discarded fishing nets, presentation in Brussels, July 2017
(78) Macfadyen et al, 2009 Abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear, UNEP
(79) In Ireland, where measures to reduce single-use plastic bags have been successful, charges are paid into an environment fund. Annual revenues have risen to €23.4m in 2009. Collection and associated administration costs are low, at about 3% of revenues. The remainder of the revenues are used to support environmental programmes, such as recycling centres and cleaning up illegal landfill sites.
(80)   https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/initiatives/ares-2017-4989291_en
(81) This is not a question of enforcement of the current legislation, but of the collection and the treatment infrastructures and their ability to capture and remove pieces of plastics. Some plastics are not transiting through waste water treatment plants as they are authorised to ‘by pass’ the treatment infrastructures in case of heavy rains (CSOs). More quantification on these issues will be provided in the context of the evaluation to be finalised by mid 2019.
(82) Currently, few test methods for the assessment of the biodegradation of materials in the marine environment are available from ISO and ASTM. No European CEN test method has been developed so far. Marine biodegradability pre-normative research was initiated on FP7 project OPENBIO and will be the focus of a H2020 SC2 2019 research topic.
(83) See detailed analysis in Annex 7
(84) JRC Technical Report: Harm caused by Marine Litter, 2016
(85) Marine Anthropogenic Litter, Editors: Bergmann, Melanie, Gutow, Lars, Klages, Michael (Eds.), 2015 Springer, ISBN 978-3-319-16510-3
(86) "PRODuction COMmunautaire" provides statistics on the production, exports and imports of manufactured goods in the EU
(87) Eriksen et al. 2014 Plastic Pollution in the World's Oceans: More than 5 Trillion Plastic Pieces Weighing over 250,000 Tons Afloat at Sea, PLoS ONE 9(12): e111913
(88) Legambiente, 2016, Beach litter 2016
(89) KIMO, 2015 Fishing For Litter Scotland Final report 2014-2016
(90) Gilman et al, 2016. Abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded gillnets and trammel nets. FAO Technical paper 600
(91)  This is a passive fishing technique where vertical panels of netting, normally set in a straight line, trap fish and sometimes considered as making a major contribution to ghost fishing
(92) Fame (2017)
(93) Assuming removal is €1000 per tonne which is based on Norwegian campaigns. Eunomia estimate €818-1275 per tonne. This is probably on the high side for current operations but efficiency can be expected to increase as better reporting of lost gear under the Control Regulations allows more accurate identification of hot spots
(94) Although there is wide variation in performance in different fleets, OSPAR estimate average cost per vessel for "passive" fishing for litter is €500 including organisation and reporting and that each vessel brings back 0.7 tonnes in a year.
(95) SWD/2018/021 final
(96) This includes plastic that does not derive from fishing (see annex 7).
(97)  NB: for all subsequent options, adequate measures need to be taken to ensure full integration with other fee collection schemes, including port fees.
(98) Implementation of PRF, revised CR, EMFF support
(99) Some operators currently on the market for recycling fishing gear break even only by importing gear from outside the EU. Viool V. et al. (2018). Study to support impact assessment for options to reduce the level of ALDFG Final report.
(100) There is currently only one convincing example of research being conducted into replacement of material used in certain types of fishing gear with the objective of making this gear more environmentally sustainable [ref Dolly Rope project]. This project is, however, limited in scope and not yet at the stage of allowing conclusions.
(101) This is a aspirational target based on EU countries matching the efficiency of Norwegian operations
(102) This is reduction of inflow
(103) Over and above what is already planned
(104) Over and above what is already planned; only administration, costs of operations paid from public budget
(105) Explanatory Memorandum of PRF Directive, section 1
(106) Survey for the collection and dissemination of statistics on the production of industrial (mainly manufactured) goods, both in value and quantity terms, with at least an annual frequency, in the EU.
(107) Eurostat reference database for EU external trade, including imports and exports.

Brussels, 28.5.2018

SWD(2018) 254 final

COMMISSION STAFF WORKING DOCUMENT

IMPACT ASSESSMENT

Reducing Marine Litter: action on single use plastics and fishing gear

Accompanying the document

Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment

{COM(2018) 340 final}
{SEC(2018) 253 final}
{SWD(2018) 255 final}
{SWD(2018) 256 final}
{SWD(2018) 257 final}


Annex 1: Procedural information

1Organisation and timing

2Consultation of the Regulatory Scrutiny Board

3Evidence used in the impact assessment

4List of acronyms, abbreviations and glossary

Annex 2: Stakeholder consultation – Synopsis report

1Introduction

2Stakeholder groups covered by consultation

3Consultation activities

4Results of stakeholder consultations on Single-Use Plastics

4.1Stakeholder workshops and conferences

4.2Inception Impact Assessment feedback

4.3Interviews/ad hoc consultation

4.4Eurobarometer consultations

4.5Open Public Consultation

4.6SUP conclusions

4.7Mitigation of Stakeholder concerns

5Results of stakeholder consultations on fishing gear

5.1Inception Impact Assessment feedback

5.2Interviews/ad hoc consultation

5.3Open Public Consultation

5.4Fishing gear conclusions

5.5Mitigation of Stakeholder concerns

Annex 3: Current situation: Facts and Figures

1Marine litter as a global issue

1.1Litter volumes entering the oceans

1.2Accumulation of plastics in the environment

2Marine litter from Europe

2.1Marine litter measurement

2.2Methodological note on beach litter as a proxy for sea litter

2.3Evolution of marine litter over time

2.4Categorisation of marine litter

2.5Travelling of marine litter

2.6Marine litter aggregation – creating a ‘top 10’

2.7Pathways for marine litter

2.8Sea and land based split of marine litter

2.9Riverine and soil litter

2.10Plastics overview

2.11Plastic litter estimates

2.12Waste from fishing gear

2.13Impacts on the environment, health and economy

2.14Economic impacts from environmental externalities

3Reducing marine litter

3.1Single-use plastics: issues, definition and insights from existing measures

3.2Plastic waste from sea-based sources: sources and existing EU measures

3.3Microplastics

3.4Existing measures: EPR and Deposit Return Systems

3.5Examples of good practice

4Global action

4.1Existing actions involving EU

4.2Actions to be taken


Annex 1: Procedural information

Lead DG: Directorate Generals Environment (ENV) and Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (MARE)

Agenda Planning Reference AP N°

Short title

Foreseen adoption

PLAN/2017/2170

Reducing marine litter: action on single-use plastics and fishing gear

Spring 2018 (Commission Proposal)

0Organisation and timing

Work has been ongoing for a number of years on marine litter, reflected for example in the in the ‘Marine Strategy Framework Directive’ (MSFD) adopted in 2008 with the aim to achieve ‘Good Environmental Status’ (GES) for the European seas 1 by 2020 ‘ or the ‘aspirational marine litter reduction target 30% by 2030 with 2015 baseline' set out in the Circular Economy Package.

On 15 December 2017, the Inception Impact assessment Roadmap "Reducing marine litter: action on single-use plastics and fishing gear" was published. At its closure, on 12 January, 28 reactions were received, which are being analysed now. ENV leads the work on single-use plastics (SUP), MARE on fishing gear, in close collaboration with each other.

The Inter Service Steering Group (ISSG) for the Impact Assessment was set up by the SG in January 2018 and includes the following additional DGs and Services: SJ, GROW, TRADE, ENER, JUST, EMPL, MOVE, SANTE, CNECT, ECFIN, TAXUD, RTD, AGRI, EAC, REGIO, CLIMA, COMP.

Meetings were organised between January 2018 and May 2018. Further consultations with the ISSG were carried out by e-mail.

The ISSG discussed the Inception Impact Assessment and the main milestones in the process, in particular the consultation strategy and main stakeholder consultation activities, key deliverables from the support study, and the draft Impact Assessment report before the submission to the Regulatory Scrutiny Board.

1Consultation of the Regulatory Scrutiny Board

The Regulatory Scrutiny Board ("RSB") received the draft version of the present Impact Assessment report on 5 March 2018. The RSB had previously given some indications of what was required through an upstream support meeting. Further to the meeting with the RSB on 21 March 2018, the RSB gave a negative opinion on 23 March 2018. The opinion included recommendations, which have been addressed in the revised IA report as explained in the table below and were discussed in an Inter Service Steering Group meeting.

Comments from the Regulatory Scrutiny Board

Main considerations

Further considerations

How these issues have been addressed in the IA Report

1. The report does not state clearly whether focussing on 10 single use plastic items and fishing gear is meant to reduce significantly marine litter or to address its most hazardous part. It does not demonstrate how newly emerging problematic plastic items would be addressed.

what problem the initiative wants to tackle: the mass of marine litter in the ocean, or the number of plastic items on the beach or in the ocean.. The report should. The report should in the main report and the annexes.

Section 1 has been redrafted to explain this is a complementary initiative to other efforts (to circular economy and microplastics initiatives). It targets the main sources of macro plastics.

This is further elaborated in redrafting throughout Section 2.1, where discussion of the Top 10 SUP has been included and explained for the first time.

Section 2.1.2 addresses weights or counts issue directly

demonstrate and motivate why the scope of the initiative has to be limited to the top 10 single use plastic items and lost or abandoned fishing gear

Section 1 and 2 redrafted to explain the focus on macroplastics and not microplastics. Section 2 explains better how the initiative addresses 84% of plastic marine litter by count

Section 5.1 further elaborates.

demonstrate the relevance of the list of 10 items and that it is future proof, in particular in comparison to national and international initiatives

Section 2.1 redrafted to make clear that the Top 10 covers 86% of SUP, and so is a wide list for now. The additional items are explained in more detail in Annex 3. Section 8 better explains how changes in the occurrence of plastic items on beaches and in the seas could be dealt with in the future.

check the consistency and qualify the robustness of the various figures on marine litter and plastic marine litter

Text has been clarified throughout Section 2 (and Annex 3) and new headline figures added to make relevance clearer

The analysis of impacts and comparison of options should reflect the revised problem analysis

Section 6 redrafted to better link with section 2

2. The report does not analyse shortcomings of existing environmental, fisheries and maritime legislation in preventing the named items from ending up in the sea

Analysis of why existing legislation does not succeed to prevent the identified items from becoming marine litter.

Section 2.4 redrafted to clarify why this is not an enforcement issue. Detailed clarifications and gaps of the current legislation are included in Section 5.2.1.

consider measures to improve implementation instead of introducing an additional layer of legislation

The issue of better implementation is discussed in Section 2.4 and 5.2.1

3. The report does not argue convincingly that this is a cross-border problem that is best addressed at EU-level. It also does not consider the role and impact of existing legislation, especially for fishing gear

the facts that the Commission has an abundance of data and that Member States have decided (not) to take different measures resulting in a patchwork approach are insufficient evidence that EU-level legislation is justified

Sections 3 and 4 redrafted to make clearer that this is a transboundary issue, make clearer the secondary / additional arguments on subsidiairity and the link to existing legislation

4. The construction, the description and the comparison of the options does not make clear that the final package combines the most cost-effective solutions for the different product

How the proposed actions address the problem drivers and complement existing legislation.

Section 5.2.3 redrafted to better explain how the sub-options address the drivers and pathways and complement existing legislation

Explain the logic behind the grouping of measures for each plastic item into the different option packages. This makes it difficult to understand the effectiveness of the individual measures and packages, so that the choice for the preferred options is not sufficiently substantiated.

Section 5.2.3 now explains the grouping and that the underlying analysis per measure is found in Annex 6. Section 6.2 includes further analysis of the different sub-options, their make-up and the trade-offs and comparison between them.

The options for fishing gear need to be complemented and developed from types of measures into well-defined interventions. The report also needs to discuss how this initiative would tackle marine litter in the long-term.

describe the numerical models and assumptions used for the analysis

Section 6 includes additional information on the underlying assumptions and further information is added into the underpinning Annexes

5. The report misses the views of the stakeholders throughout the document

discussion should illustrate whether the preferred option varies among stakeholders and which mitigation measures are being considered to address stakeholder concerns

Stakeholder discussion included where relevant in main text and in particular in Section 5

The RSB gave consequently a positive opinion with reservations on 16 April 2018. The recommendations included in this opinion have been addressed in the revised IA report as explained in the table below.



Comments from the Regulatory Scrutiny Board

Main considerations

Further considerations

How these issues have been addressed in the IA Report

For fishing gear, it remains problematic that this initiative intends to add new layers of legislation, while parts of the existing or proposed legislation appear to have already addressed the issue. The revised report states that the main shortcoming of the existing legislation is the insufficient incentives for fishermen to bring back their gear to shore. However, the legislation in the pipeline not only makes it illegal to dump garbage into the ocean, it requires the mandatory marking of fishing gear, its retrieval in the event of loss, the notification of the loss in case retrieval is not possible, and the inclusion of this information in the electronic reporting obligations. Furthermore, the proposal for the revision of the Port Reception Facilities Directive introduces clear incentives for delivery of waste. It foresees the removal of financial disincentives to return waste to the port and has increased reporting and inspection obligations for fishing vessels. This proposal also foresees that a reduced waste fee would be applied for ships that can demonstrate sustainable and environmentally sound waste management on board. Finally, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund can also provide financial support for the recovery of lost gear and for the waste handling on ships. In the current state, the report does not make the case for actions on fishing gears and proposes initiatives which are unnecessary and burdensome.

Section 2.2.2 "underlying drivers" and section 2.4 "current policy framework" and section 6.3.1.4 "Revision of Port Reception Facilities Directive" point out that whilst individual fishermen will not be penalised for bringing waste ashore, port fees will increase if more waste is brought ashore and waste handling facilities need to be upgraded, especially in the small fishing ports that many vessels use.

The text has also been modified to strengthen the argument concerning economies of scale if the sorting, transport and disposal of waste is carried out at a regional or national scale.

A number of options address recycling of macro plastics, which does not directly tackle the main problem of plastics in the seas. While recycling improves the use of natural resources, it does not in itself reduce littering or increase the percentage of waste returned to ports. The report should re-assess the appropriateness of including such options.

This comment related to fishing gear. The report already indicates that there are no direct benefits in terms of litter input in the sea. Nevertheless the setting of targets was identified as an essential component of the successful Icelandic system that helped the fishermen develop ownership of the scheme Furthermore, since monitoring the final destiny of waste is an integral part of the EPR option, the marginal cost is almost zero.

(2) Although the report makes it clearer that the 10 most frequently found single-use plastics are harmful as a group, this is not shown for each individual item, especially for those that are least frequently found.

The report discusses the harmful effects of the 10 most frequently found single-use plastics as a group, while it foresees measures for each of the items individually. It should therefore show that each of these items is sufficiently harmful to warrant the proposed measures. This is particularly relevant for those items that are found less frequently, as they represent only a small proportion of the macro plastics in the seas.

Section 2.1.4.2 has been redrafted to state that, there is some evidence (although with little scientific literature available yet) that differentiates the impacts of the different items. The global impact is however high and the chosen option (2c) would, according to the modelling referred in table 27 of Annex 6 (and based on the underlying assumptions), reduce 464 million items in marine litter, compared to the baseline scenario. Even for the smallest group in relation to littered items, cutlery, this option would reduce the inflow into the marine environment with 18 million items.

3) The report does not analyse why it is better to introduce new legislation for single-use plastics. It does not explain why improving implementation of existing legislation, in particular on waste management is not the way forward.

For single-use plastics, the analysis of the current policy framework (section 2.4) should clarify to what extent plastics end up in the oceans as a result of a lack of ambition of current legislation or because of weak implementation. It should also demonstrate that introducing measures to reduce the occurrence of each of the 10 most found single-use plastics is more effective and/or efficient than strengthening the existing legislation or its implementation.

Section 2.4. has been redrafted to reinforce the fact that the waste legislation will have effects mainly on increasing recycling by using plastics that are now either incinerated, landfilled or exported, with marginal impact on littering. Upstream measures are also more efficient.

The case for taking action at EU-level on marine litter has been reinforced in the revised report. However, some of the arguments could be further strengthened. Besides cross-border protection of the environment, the revised report cites market fragmentation as the legitimation to introduce Europe-wide measures. However, it does not prove that fragmentation indeed poses a problem either for the market or for addressing marine litter.

Section 4.2 has been redrafted to reinforce that some MS are already taking action on acting and others are planning to do so in line with new scientific findings and public pressure. The diverse regulatory approaches will increase the risk of uneven ambition and different rules for economic operators with consequent negative impact on the market.

The revised report has clarified the use of statistics on plastics in the seas. However, there remain inconsistencies in the data that are not highlighted in the presentation. In particular, different parts of the report state that single-use plastics represent half of all items (plastics and non-plastics) on the beach, but also that they represent half of the count of plastic items, which cannot both be correct. More generally, the report should avoid imprecise and/or unfounded assumptions and statements. Additionally, the report should explicitly mention the large uncertainties of the modelling and its assumptions regarding the effectiveness of the proposed measures.

We agree: SUP represent about 50% of all marine litter in counts. As plastics is around 85% of all marine litter, this means the SUP represent about 60% of all plastic marine litter. The text was changed to clarify this difference. The text was also improved in general, and uncertainties of the modelling be added.

2Evidence used in the impact assessment 

The IA report and the options considered in the IA report were developed based on the following documents, sources and evidence:

·Main studies

The Commission sought external expertise through a contract for a support study with Eunomia (for SUP) and Deloitte (for fishing gear). From the deliverables of these contracts, the IA report used in particular the analysis and modelling of the different policy options. In addition, JRC Technical Reports provide a significant underpinning:

oCambridge Econometrics and Denkstatt “Links between production and the environment”, ongoing

oICF and Eunomia “Plastics, reuserecycling and marine litter”, ongoing

oDeloitte “Study to support impact assessment for options to reduce the level and detrimental impact of plastic from fishing gear”, ongoing

oJoint Research Centre (JRC), Anna Maria Addamo, Perrine Laroche, Georg Hanke, JRC Technical Reports, “Top Marine Beach Litter Items in Europe”, 2017

oJoint Research Centre (JRC), Georg Hanke, JRC Technical Reports, “Marine Beach Litter in Europe – Top Items”, 2016

oJoint Research Centre (JRC), Joana Mira Veiga, David Fleet, Susan Kinsey et al., JRC Technical Reports, “Identifying Source of Marine Litter”, 2016

oJoint Research Centre (JRC), Stephanie Werner, Ania Budziak, Jan van Franeker et al., JRC Technical Reports, “Harm caused by Marine Litter”, 2016

oJoint Research Centre (JRC), Daniel González, Georg Hanke, Gijsbert Tweehuysen et al., JRC Technical Reports, “Riverine Litter Monitoring – Options and Recommendations”, 2016

oJoint Research Centre (JRC), MSFD Technical Subgroup on Marine Litter, JRC Scientific and Policy Reports, “Guidance on Monitoring of Marine Litter in European Seas”, 2013

·Additional external expertise (non-exhaustive list)

oTarget review project, DG ENV support contract for the preparation of the impact assessment, Eunomia with Argus, Öko Institute and Copenhagen Resource Institute and Satsuma Media, final report in approbation process, http://www.wastetargetsreview.eu/  

oPast and future climate benefits from better municipal waste management in Europe, EEA 2011, http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/waste-opportunities-84-past-and

oTechnological, Socio-Economic and Cost-Benefit Assessments Related to the Implementation and Further Development of EU Waste Legislation, Eunomia with Argus, Öko Institute and Copenhagen Resource Institute and Satsuma Media, final report in approbation process, http://www.wastemodel.eu/  

oUse of economic instruments and waste management performances, Bio Intelligence Service with IEEP, Eunomia, Ecologic, Arcadis and Umweltbundesamt, April 2012, http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/pdf/final_report_10042012.pdf  

oApplication of the ‘producer responsibility’ principle in the context of waste management, Bio Intelligence Service with IEEP, Eunomia, Ecologic, Arcadis and Umweltbundesamt, December 2013, http://epr.eu-smr.eu/  

oSupport to Member States in improving waste management based on assessment of Member States' performances, Final report, May 2013, BiPro with Arcadis and Enviroplan, http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/framework/support_implementation.htm  

oManaging municipal solid waste – a review of achievements in 32 European countries, EEA report N° 2/2013, EEA 2013,   http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/managing-municipal-solid-waste  

oTreating waste as a Resource for the EU Industry. Analysis of Various Waste Streams and the Competitiveness of their Client Industries - Final report, ECSIP Consortium for the European Commission, DG ENTR, August 2013

oStudy of the largest loopholes within the flow of packaging material, Bipro Final Report (ENV.D.2/ETU/2011/0043)

oImplementing EU Waste Legislation for Green Growth – Final report, Bio Intelligence Service for the European Commission DG ENV, November 2011 http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/studies/pdf/study%2012%20FINAL%20REPORT.pdf

oEEA report 8/2011, "Earnings, jobs and innovation – the role of recycling in a green economy", EEA 2011

oResource saving and CO2 reduction potentials in waste management in Europe and the possible contribution to the 2020 CO2 reduction target in 2020, PROGNOS and IFEU, October 2008 http://www.prognos.com/CO2-study.609.0.html

oIs structural measures funding for municipal waste management infrastructure projects effective in helping Member States achieve EU waste policy objectives? European Court Auditor special report N° 20, 2012 http://www.eca.europa.eu/  

oMunicipal Solid Waste Management Capacities in Europe (Draft), EEA-ETC/SCP, January 2014

oInvestment potential for the treatment of bio and recyclable municipal waste in the EU, final report, EIB with the support of Prognos and Lameyer KW consult, November 2013

oHow to improve EU legislation to tackle marine litter, IEEP for Seas at Risk, July 2013

oDiverting waste from landfill - Effectiveness of waste-management policies in the European Union. EEA Report No 7/2009,  http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/diverting-waste-from-landfill-effectiveness-of-waste-management-policies-in-the-european-union  

oDanish Government (2013) Denmark Without Waste: Recycle More - Incinerate Less, November 2013, http://www.mst.dk/NR/rdonlyres/EBE9E5D4-B765-4D4E-9954-9B713846E4CF/162130/Ressourcestrategi_UK_web.pdf

oJakus P. M., et al. (1996) Generation of Recyclables by Rural Households, Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Vol 21 (1), pp 96-108; and Tiller K. H., et al. (1997) Household Willingness to Pay for Dropoff Recycling, Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Vol 22 (2), pp 310-320). A. Bruvoll, B. Halvorsen and K. Nyborg (2002), Households' Recycling Efforts, Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 36: 337354

oBipro Final Report (ENV.D.2/ETU/2011/0043): Study of the largest loopholes within the flow of packaging material, p. 22

oAnalysis of the key contribution to resource efficiency, BIO Intelligence Service for DG ENV, April 2012

oEIMPack (2011) Economic Impact of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive – literature review, http://eimpack.ist.utl.pt/docs/Literature%20Review_final.pdf .

3List of acronyms, abbreviations and glossary

·ALDFG – Abandoned lost and otherwise discarded fishung gear

·BAU – Business as usual

·BAT – Best Available Technique

·BEP – Best Environmental Practice

·C&D waste – Construction and demolition waste, which includes concrete, bricks, gypsum, wood, glass, metals, plastic, solvents, asbestos and excavated soil arising from activities such as the construction of buildings and civil infrastructure, total or partial demolition of buildings and civil infrastructure, road planning and maintenance

·CFP – Common Fisheries Policy

·CR – Control Regulation

·CIR – Control Implementing Regulation

·EEA - The European Environment Agency

·ETC/SCP - European Topic Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production

·EMFF – European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. One of the five structural and investment funds of the funding period 2014-2020. Successor to the European Fisheries Fund (EFF).

·Energy recovery – The use of waste as fuel or other means to generate energy. Directive 2008/98/EC introduced specific new criteria to determine the efficiency level at which incineration in municipal waste incinerators can be deemed an energy recovery rather than disposal activity

·EPR - Extended Producer Responsibility – these systems makes those placing goods on the market – producers, importers - responsible for the waste collection and treatment of the waste generated

·FADs – Fish Aggregating Devices, used especially in tuna fishing in uinternational waters

·GDP - Gross Domestic Product

·IA - Impact Assessment

·IASG - Impact Assessment Steering Group

·Industrial waste – Industrial waste is waste generated in industrial and manufacturing processes such as basic metals, food, beverage and tobacco products, wood and wood products and paper and paper products

·LCA – Life cycle assessment (or analysis) – the investigation and evaluation of the environmental impacts of a given product or service caused or necessitated by its existence

·MBT – Mechanical Biological Treatment facilities – facilities combining different mechanical and biological treatment usually aiming at treating residual waste (after separate collection)

·MS – Member State

·MSW – Municipal solid waste – Article 2 of Directive 1999/31/EC defines municipal waste as waste from households, as well as other waste which, because of its nature or composition, is similar to waste from households

·MSFD – Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2008/56/EC)

·NPP – National prevention programmes – Article 29 of the WFD requires MS to prepare waste prevention programmes by end 2013

·Preparing for re-use – Article 3 of Directive 2008/98/EC defines preparing for re-use as ‘checking, cleaning or repairing recovery operations, by which products or components of products that have become waste are prepared so that they can be re-used without any other pre-processing’

·PAYT – 'Pay as you throw' systems. These systems also called variable rate pricing are systems in which residents are charged according to the waste they actually produced. There are different ways of metering the waste produced either sophisticated systems where waste is weighted or more simple systems where a tax is applied per waste bag according to its volume

·PPWD – Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive

·PRO – Producer Responsibility Organisation – collective organisation aiming at ensuring that the obligations of financing/meeting waste management targets (reuse/recycling) laying on producers/importers when they place goods on the EU market are fulfilled

·Recovery – Article 3 of Directive 2008/98/EC defines recovery as ‘any operation the principal result of which is waste serving a useful purpose by replacing other materials which would otherwise have been used to fulfil a particular function, or waste being prepared to fulfil that function, in the plant or in the wider economy’

·Recycling – Article 3 of Directive 2008/98/EC defines recycling as ‘any recovery operation by which waste materials are reprocessed into products, materials or substances whether for the original or other purposes. It includes the reprocessing of organic material but does not include energy recovery and the reprocessing into materials that are to be used as fuels or for backfilling operations’. There are some differences in the definition of the concepts of ‘recycling’, ‘recovery’, ‘reuse’ and municipal waste between the WFD, the Landfill and the PPWD

·Re-use – Article 3 of Directive 2008/98/EC defines re-use as ‘any operation by which products or components that are not waste are used again for the same purpose for which they were conceived’

·Waste Hierarchy – Article 4 of Directive 2008/98/EC makes the waste hierarchy a ‘priority order’ in waste prevention and management legislation and policy, and defines it as, in order of preference: (a) prevention; (b) preparing for re-use; (c) recycling; (d) other recovery, e.g. energy recovery; and (e) disposal

·Waste prevention – Article 4 of Directive 2008/98/EC defines prevention as ‘measures taken before a substance, material or product has become waste, that reduce: (a) the quantity of waste, including through the re-use of products or the extension of the life span of products; (b) the adverse impacts of the generated waste on the environment and human health; or (c) the content of harmful substances in materials and products’

·WFD – Waste Framework Directive originally adopted in 1975 and revised in 2008 as Directive 2008/98/EC


Annex 2: Stakeholder consultation – Synopsis report

1Introduction

The consultation objectives were to gather views, concerns and ideas from a wide variety of interested stakeholders on the best means to achieve a reduction in marine litter, particularly originating from Single-Use Plastics (SUPs) and from fishing gear. The results of the consultation activities described in this document have fed into the Commission's Plastics Strategy 2 and the Impact Assessment on SUPs and fishing gear.

2Stakeholder groups covered by consultation

The combination of a number of consultation activities (described in the next section) employed as part of this project captured the opinions of a broad range of stakeholder groups and interests. Consultations engaged with members of the public, EU and Member State representatives, academics, representatives of business and industry associations (manufacturers, plastics converters, retailers and Research and Development companies), NGOs, government bodies and public authorities and consumer associations.

3Consultation activities 

The consultation approach involved a range of tools made available through a range of the Commission's ongoing work on plastics and the marine environment. This document draws on the following consultation activities:

·Two stakeholder workshops, carried out on 16 June and 14 September 2017, exploring the root causes and potential measures to deal with single-use plastics.

·The Reinventing Plastics Stakeholder Conference 3 held on 26 September 2017, which included a specific session on marine litter and single-use plastics.

·The 2018 Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform Conference on 20 February, which included a high-level session on plastics covering SUPs and fishing gear.

·Responses received to the Inception Impact Assessment open consultation/feedback.

·Interviews/ad hoc consultation with stakeholders.

·The recent Special Eurobarometer 468 (EC, 2017) 4  and Flash Eurobarometer 388 (EC, 2014) 5 .

·The Online Public Consultation (OPC) on 'Reducing marine litter: action on single-use plastics and fishing gear' launched from 15 December 2017 to 12 February 2018.

The results of each of the above engagement activities were separately analysed and are summarised in this document under respective sections. Synthesis and further analysis of the results was undertaken focusing on themes and cutting across consultation activities on issues around Single-Use Plastics and Fishing gear. These are reported across stakeholder categories drawing out key messages on stakeholder views around issues, actions and responsibilities in dealing with plastics in the marine environment and highlighting any differences in opinions by a particular sector or stakeholder, where these existed.

4Results of stakeholder consultations on Single-Use Plastics

4.0Stakeholder workshops and conferences 

Two stakeholder workshops on SUPs took place on 16 June and 14 September 2017, each attended by 12-13 stakeholders representing producers, industry associations, NGOs, local authorities and Member States. The workshops focussed on gathering stakeholder views on the problems and root causes of single-use plastics and identifying measures to address ‘single-use’ plastic items.

In an attempt to define SUPs, workshop participants generally agreed that items classifying as SUPs, should fulfil the following criteria: Prevalence in marine environment; Short use phase; Consumed predominantly away from home and; Reusable or non-plastic alternatives exist, though some exceptions to the above will exist.

The root causes of the leakage of SUPs into the environment were discussed, and the overarching problems identified included low levels of re-use and low levels of recycling. In this context various causes were also discussed, such as item design of products and materials and consumer behaviour, with several participants arguing that a lack of regulatory measures to address these issues could also be seen as a root cause (though not as the only mechanism to address these).

A range of measures, of both regulatory and voluntary nature, was discussed including (but not limited to): incentives for producers and consumers (financial and behavioural), improvements in plastic waste collection, introduction of standards and bans and obligations introduced in product design and waste reporting. The respondents favoured an EU-wide waste prevention target and argued for cooperation between stakeholders to develop a holistic approach to address SUPs. With respect to regulatory measures, such as bans, the importance of public support was highlighted through examples. Discussions around the limitations of potential measures highlighted in particular that:

·There is limited evidence on the effectiveness of awareness raising campaigns, whilst there was general agreement that these are not sufficient as a standalone measure.

·Bans were considered a good way of enforcing the redesign of specific low-value items.

·However, if applied only at a national level such measures can interfere with the operation of the single market.

·Caution is advisable in the timeframe of implementation to ensure that substitution materials meet the standards and consumers are prepared.

·Charges were seen as a preventive measure, which can effectively influence consumer behaviour, while at the same time generating a new stream of revenue. Industry representatives highlighted, and others agreed, that a legislative approach was needed to ensure broad application and a level playing field.

·Setting targets for reduction in consumption of specific items was generally seen as an appropriate measure for EU-level action.

·There was the alternative option of ensuring that SUPs are not given away free at the point of sale.

Other potential measures identified included amending the Waste Framework Directive, better respect the waste hierarchy, the use of green public procurement to leverage sustainable materials and voluntary agreements to complement regulatory measures.

A stakeholder conference on Rethinking plastics took place on 26 September 2017 in Brussels. On the subject of SUPs, stakeholders suggested that in order to achieve the 50% marine litter reduction target voted by the European Parliament, an ambitious EU-wide strategy was required putting in place specific policy measures. It was further proposed that different measures might be appropriate for different SUPs.

Recognising the relationship between consumption and littering, and the priorities according to the waste hierarchy, binding consumption reduction targets linked to achievable time frames, were proposed. Consumer incentives, deposit-return schemes and provision of infrastructure for recycling were identified as potentially appropriate measures. As well as targeting the items, it was suggested that sources and pathways of marine litter should also be addressed. In this context, the effectiveness of public awareness initiatives was discussed with stakeholders noting a lack of demonstrable results, linked in particular to under-resourced campaigns. A mandate on green procurement was thought to be a good way of increasing demand in the market for alternatives to SUPs. There was consent that a holistic, balanced solution could be achieved by recognising shared responsibility amongst all stakeholders and employing a combination of measures that cut across reduction, reuse and recyclability. The omission of enforcement in the discussion was noted, with stakeholders arguing that revisions requested to the Waste Framework Directive would require littering to be made a criminal offence in all Member States.

The 2018 Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform Conference 6 also took place on 20-21 February 2018 and contributed to the existing consultations with further insights on actions and good practices for addressing plastics in the marine environment.

4.1Inception Impact Assessment feedback

Feedback on the Inception Impact Assessment was received from 28 respondents across stakeholder categories. Representatives from the private sector emphasised on the importance of economic viability of recycling, poor implementation of existing rules and regulatory gaps. Across stakeholders, there was strong support for intervention at an EU level, with retailers and producers expressing a preference for voluntary approaches over regulatory measures. A number of respondents highlighted the need for a circular or life-cycle approach that supports prevention, and called for incentives on innovation and the removal of regulatory barriers at a national level. An extended scope was suggested by a number of respondents that would include an assessment of the impacts of primary and secondary microplastics and nanoplastics.

In discussions around potential measures, the diversity of SUPs gave rise to a differentiated approach depending on whether plastic marine litter is the result of items that are being recycled, items for which more sustainable alternatives exist, or finally items for which there is no readily available alternative. For items already captured, strong interest was expressed in Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Schemes, which were seen by many as highly effective. However, some did warn that such schemes are unable to address the leakage of plastics resulting from poor consumer behaviour towards recycling. Several respondents also referred to the success of deposit-return schemes (e.g. for bottles), although some recognised there are negative, and potentially disproportionate, economic implications for retailers. Factors that were identified as crucial to the success of such schemes included the efficiency of existing waste management systems, consumer behaviour, local infrastructure, the item's reuse potential, enforcement by Member States, as well as, EPR fees that are EU harmonised, consistent, scientifically reliable and allow for innovation. For items that could be replaced by more sustainable alternatives, retailers argued that this would be best achieved at a consumer level through awareness-raising and positive incentives. In decisions around substitute materials, priority should be given to materials that are readily recyclable. There was some caution towards the use of biodegradable plastics with several calling for clarity in the information provided and labelling for consumers. A number of respondents argued that the replacement of SUPs should be a priority, where no sustainable alternatives exist. Business representatives highlighted that any restrictions must take account of single market requirements and administrative burdens.

4.2Interviews/ad hoc consultation

During the course of the study a range of ad-hoc, consultations were carried out in order to help develop the problem and impact analyses. These included a range of formal and informal interviews with stakeholders from public institutions, NGOs, industry associations and businesses. The number of stakeholders consulted in this way was in excess of 30. These interviews typically sought to shape and test potential intervention measures, to see what was technically feasible and the likely primary effects. Interviews were also used to gather specific data related to performance and costs and how these may change as a result of potential intervention measures.

A range of formal and informal interviews with relevant stakeholders from public institutions, NGOs, industry associations and businesses were also carried out, alongside the stakeholder workshops mentioned above, in order to help develop the impact analysis. The number of stakeholders consulted was around 30. The views of the stakeholder helped shape the measures, in relation to what was technically feasible, and provided data related to performance and costs.

Stakeholders across groups highlighted the importance of understanding the availability and function of the single-use non-plastic or multi-use alternatives, and the potential cost to manufacturers to switch materials in the production processes. In addition, consulting with the operators of multi-use refill schemes and water companies helped develop a better understanding of the operation of such schemes and the challenges they face.

4.3Eurobarometer consultations

In their responses to the Special Eurobarometer 468 (EC, 2017) 7 , around a third (33%) of Europeans identified marine pollution as the most important environmental issue. In response to questions on plastic waste and littering, around three-quarters of Europeans (72%) stated they have reduced their use of single-use plastic carrier bags, while a large percentage of those (38%) said they have cut down their use in the last 12 months.

The majority of respondents (between 89% and 94%) considered the following measures as important in reducing plastic waste and littering:

·products should be designed in a way that facilitates the recycling of plastic;

·industry and retailers should make an effort to reduce plastic packaging;

·people should be educated on how to reduce their plastic waste; and

·local authorities should provide more and better collection facilities for plastic waste.

With regard to consumers' responsibility in reducing plastic waste, 61% of respondents considered important that consumers pay an extra charge for single-use plastic goods.

Across the EU, there has been an increase in the numbers of Europeans who believe that decision-making on environmental protection should be taken jointly within the EU as opposed to the decision being taken by the national government alone.

A similar Eurobarometer consultation with European citizens in 2014 (Flash Eurobarometer 388) revealed Europeans' support 8 towards an EU-level target to reduce marine litter.

4.4Open Public Consultation

The Online Public Consultation (OPC) on 'Reducing marine litter: action on single-use plastics and fishing gear' launched from 15 December 2017 to 12 February 2018. This consultation complemented previous exercises conducted by the Commission, such as an OPC (October to December 2013) focussing on possible actions, by different stakeholder groups, to address the issue of marine litter 9 . The consultation received a total of 1,807 responses across Member States.

Across respondents, harm to animal welfare, human health risks and the impact on ecosystem services, ranked as the three most important issues linked to marine litter and SUPs. The vast majority of respondents (95%) across all stakeholder categories agreed that action to address the impacts of SUPs is both necessary and urgent. Most stakeholders were of the opinion that the EU should support mandatory instruments at a global or at least at European level. Government and public authority stakeholders diverged from this view noting that certain measures should be delivered at the European level whilst some may be best addressed at the local or national level.

A strong case was also made for reducing the presence of SUPs in the environment, with caps, lids and drinking bottles on the list of priorities. With reference to specific measures, respondents were in favour of beach cleaning, active 'fishing for litter' and the regular quantification of marine and beach litter. Industry and trade associations were the only stakeholder category that did not support active 'fishing for litter'. Recovery of marine litter found in fishing nets and recovery of fishing gear also generated support across most stakeholders.

In response to questions on their own use of SUP a large number of respondents noted a decrease in their use of light weight shopping bags, drink bottles and caps and lids. The consumption of crisps packets and sweet wrappers was the one that had changed the least. For those respondents that reported reductions in their use of SUP, the overwhelming majority attributed this change to increasing awareness of the environmental impacts of SUP. Respondents appeared most keen to reduce their use of plastic bottles above all items, with more than half of them reported that they had already done so. 77% of respondents stated that they would be willing to pay a small additional amount as part of a deposit refund scheme on plastic bottles. Extensive support (93%) was also expressed for policies, which would phase out disposable non-biodegradable plastic tableware in favour of those made with biodegradable materials or reusable alternatives, even when they involved a small price increase. Industry and trade association representatives were split in their willingness to pay because of such policies though they were still in favour of phasing out SUPs.

Considerable support (91%) was expressed for the introduction of rules that require cigarette companies to contribute financially to the costs of clearing up cigarette butts. Industry and trade associations were more reluctant to support this measure. Amongst the 5% of respondents to spoke against this measure were plastics converters and manufacturers though they only represented part of their sectors' responses. A similar suggestion for producers of sanitary items was also supported by the majority of respondents (79%), with the exception of representatives from the arts and entertainment sector and some of the manufacturers.

Members of the public also shared their opinions on diverse measures and approaches that could effectively reduce the environmental impacts of different SUPs. With reference to drink bottles, Deposit Return Schemes (DRS) were considered the most appropriate response (47%) followed by the option to set targets for use reduction (33%). Minimum design requirements found less support (20%) amongst respondents and were not favoured by business representatives. A different course of action was suggested for lightweight shopping bags with stakeholders across categories being in favour of a use reduction target (62%). For SUP, which could be replaced by more sustainable alternatives, such as cotton buds and cutlery, respondents supported legislative action (to better design or more sustainably produce these items) and use reduction targets. Similar legislative measures were thought to be appropriate even for items for which no obvious and proportionate alternative existed, such as cigarette butts and sanitary towels. For items falling under this SUP category, extended producer responsibility schemes were viewed as equally suitable.

Around 100 respondents provided links and 36 respondents provided attachments. Most of the links referred to NGO websites, petitions and initiatives as well as news and social media articles revolving around marine litter. Many of the uploaded attachments were explanatory statements from stakeholders providing further details on their response to the OPC. Other attachments contained policy statements from stakeholders and NGOs, such as EUROPEN, Suez, FoodDrinkEurope, Plastics Europe, Friends of the Earth, Starbucks and Veolia, as well as documents providing facts and figures on marine litter and beach clean-ups in various locations around the EU and the world. The last category varied between peer-reviewed academic papers and NGO fact-sheets. These documents helped corroborate the list of items covered in the analysis, however provided no data that could be used in the analysis.

4.5SUP conclusions

Distinct measures were deemed appropriate for different SUP items. Diverse measures were discussed depending on existing legislation, the availability of separate waste collection and the availability of sustainable alternatives. Extended producer responsibility measures were viewed favourably by respondents across most categories. Implied costs associated to some of the measures and the importance of understanding these prior to any action were highlighted by industry and business representatives.

Extended producer responsibility was suggested as an important measure by workshop participants and OPC respondents alike. Stakeholders participating in these consultation activities also found merit in legislative approaches. The workshops provide a greater degree of granularity discussing the appropriateness of specific options, such as bans and charges, for different levels or action. Reduction targets were popular across stakeholders although discussions around their effectiveness included caveats depending on the conditions of their implementation (e.g. time-bound targets).

Setting reduction targets for the consumption of specific SUPs was a popular choice in the OPC while it also emerged in stakeholder discussions during the workshops and conferences. However further individual measures and policies were broadly thought to be necessary in order to achieve overarching EU targets.

Across Eurobarometer and OPC consultations, stakeholders have indicated their willingness to pay for more sustainable alternatives to SUPs or their willingness to accept an extra charge acting as penalty for the use of SUPs.

Awareness campaigns were seen, by workshop and conference participants, as complementary measures to be employed in conjunction with other regulatory and voluntary measures.

4.6Mitigation of Stakeholder concerns

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Schemes

EPR schemes were seen by many as highly effective, but some producers argued that they are not suitable to address leakage into the oceans, which is caused by bad consumer behaviour, and indeed producers should not shoulder the cost for this misbehaviour, which is not related to their own economic activities and their treatment of waste.

EPR schemes under the preferred option would involve obligations to cover clean-up costs for certain products, which is in line with the principle of producer responsibility for post consumption, but contributions would be spread across the sectors concerned and under established rules of financial and operational transparency.

Deposit Return Schemes

Take-back schemes deliver up to 90% return rates and make high quality feedstock available to manufacturing businesses, but retailers (including Eurocommerce) stated that they can have major economic and operational impacts for their businesses; these respondents advised that schemes should be tailor made and implemented at national level. Small retailers feared facing disproportionate burdens for example in storing and managing waste.

Take-back schemes are one possible approach that may be taken, and may be considered as a form of EPR scheme. Member State and sectors concerned can decide if such schemes would be effective and viable. Existing schemes in MS and other countries have demonstrated that costs for retailers are generally covered by the scheme, and for smaller retailers exemptions are often possible or use of manual rather than automated deposit-return.

Charges at Point of Sale

Some retailers argued that charges at the point of sale could mislead and reduce environmental benefits; they therefore called for upstream solutions (obligations on manufactures and importers).

The preferred approach of the impact assessment would enable charges at the point of sale should MS decide that such a measure would be effective for a particular product in reaching reduction targets. This approach has been highly effective in the case of single-use lightweight plastic carrier bags, with significant benefits at little or no cost (or indeed negative cost). Such an approach may be effective also for other products, with costs to economic operators depending on how it is designed. SUP products are often given away free by (for example) food outlets but imply a cost, therefore a reduction in their use through a charge would in most cases imply a reduction in costs. Other measures (such as market restrictions or design requirements) would imply adaptations for upstream operators (producers and importers) rather than at point of sale.

Demand for secondary plastic

Some companies noted that a strong market for recycled materials is needed to ensure high recycling rates. This needs good quality recyclates, and competitive price for recycled materials. A chemical industry representative advised that measures should not create uncertainty along the value chain about certain established SUP applications, as this could impede investments in the transition to a circular economy.

The wider Plastics Strategy, of which this proposal forms a part, includes initiatives aimed specifically at boosting the use of recyclates and incentivizing investment in recycling capacity in Europe. The relative market prices of virgin and recycled plastic will depend mainly on factors that are outside the competence of the Commission and MS.

Food contact materials

Food and drink producers noted that not all plastic materials are suitable for food contact and safety (according to EU legislation), quality and avoiding food waste should be priorities. For food packaging biodegradable plastics fulfil the requirements of food contact approval (e.g. toxicity testing) and eco-toxicity tests.

Food contact legislation and hygiene standards would continue to apply.

Single Market

Business representatives reminded that any restrictions must take account of single market requirements.

The legislative basis of the proposal would ensure that any requirements relating to placing products on the market would be applied at the EU level, whilst other initiatives for reduction, such as those concerning consumer behaviour could be taken at the more appropriate level in accordance with the subsidiarity principle.

Inclusion of Microplastics

Some citizens and NGOs noted that the approach ignores the non-visual aspects of plastics pollution. It implies that clean-up and recycling alone will be sufficient to solve this problem. Microplastics should be considered, even if not in the scope of this proposal.

Most microplastics result from the decomposition of the plastic litter that finds its way into the marine environment. The proposal therefore tackles this pathway. Intentionally added microplastics are dealt with through the referral of these to the Chemicals Agency as another initiative under the Plastics Strategy. Microplastics released in the environment as a result of the use of products are also tackled under this Strategy by focused actions.

5Results of stakeholder consultation on fishing gear

5.0Inception Impact Assessment feedback

DG Mare received feedback on the Inception Impact Assessment from several stakeholders on 6 February 2018. The feedback centred around three main areas: (1) the baseline and its assumptions; (2) the policy options and (3) the interview questionnaire.

The main assumption of the baseline is the loss rate of plastic fishing and aquaculture gear for European seas. Initially, a loss rate of 30% was used, which was highlighted several times as too high. The feedback has been addressed by lowering the loss rate to 15% in the final report after revisiting the original sources, including interview results, adding additional sources and discussing the representativeness of these sources in Annex 5 of the main report.

Further, baseline feedback was received on the percentage weight distribution between aquaculture and fishing. Initially, the weight distribution was 77% plastic waste from aquaculture and 23% plastic waste from fishing. However, the distribution was based on Norwegian data, which is not representative for the EU-28. In the final report, the feedback has been addressed by changing the weight distribution for EU-28 to 60% plastic waste from aquaculture and 40% plastic waste from fishing by accounting for the differences of total fish catch and aquaculture production for Norway versus EU-28.

Lastly, feedback for the baseline was provided to include the effects of the revised PRF, revised Control Regulation and Waste Framework Directive in the baseline. These legislations and directives have now been taken into account, under the assumption that full implementation have taken place.

In regards to the policy options, the initial selection of four policy options to be evaluated remained. Therefore, the policy options outlined in the report are:

1.Extended producer responsibility (without deposit scheme);

2.Extended producer responsibility and deposit scheme;

3.Target setting (recycling target);

4.Alternative materials and product design.

The feedback provided on the policy options pointed out the importance of the impact quantification. Therefore, quantitative indicators for economic impact, administrative burden, environmental impact and social impact were identified and quantified to the best extent possible. Effects on stakeholders of the different policy options have been compared in a relative way using “+”, “0” and “-“.

Lastly, feedback was provided on the interview questionnaire, the third major area. The feedback has been incorporated in a revised questionnaire used for all interviews increasing the richness and depth of questions.

5.1Interviews/ad hoc consultation

A total of 16 interviews and 2 follow-up calls with relevant stakeholders have been conducted. The stakeholders interviewed comprise of different Directorate Generals of the EC, national ministries, advisory councils, fisheries organizations, fishers, recycling companies and funds, NGOs and producer organizations.

Additionally, more than 15 other stakeholders including advisory councils, NGOs and ports have been contacted via email and telephone. Due to the short timelines, some stakeholders had difficulties to provide coordinated and quantified inputs.

The purpose of the interviews was to receive qualitative and quantitative input for the description, quantification and evaluation of the four policy options. The stakeholders had been selected based on their relevance to achieve the purpose of the interviews. The interviews conducted were guided by the interview questionnaire, but remained open for additional input and further discussion.

Stakeholders provided valuable insights and quantified data, which enriched and sharpened the policy options presented in the final report. The stakeholders agreed that it is necessary to reduce plastic marine litter from fishing and aquaculture. However, none of them was able to quantify the extent of plastic marine litter from fishing and aquaculture for European seas.

Further, they agreed that political action is required, also on a European level to address the loss of plastic fishing and aquaculture gear in European seas. The majority of stakeholders view the proposed four policy options as the right choice, while pointing out the general challenge to implement, enforce and monitor policies and measures at a European scale.

Among the policy options discussed, extended producer responsibility (EPR) with and without deposit scheme has been viewed as the most beneficial policy options for the purpose of reducing plastic fishing gear entering European seas. Extended producer responsibility has been viewed favourably because it can on the one hand cover costs for sorting, dismantling and transporting as well as on the other hand pay for retrieval operations. A deposit scheme has also been mentioned as favourable, as this would create a financial incentive for returning end-of-life gear to ports. However, concerns have been presented that such a scheme, would punish fishers for non-retrievable lost gear and create incentive for fishing for the intact set gear of others. Successful examples from Iceland, Norway and Denmark were repeatedly mentioned as reference cases. Recycling targets have been discussed as beneficial to divert end-of-life gear from landfill or incineration to recycling facilities. However, stakeholders described that better market uptake for recycled materials from fishing and aquaculture gear is required and that it was necessary to allocate parts of an EPR funding or government subsidies to create a competitive position for recycled materials from the packaging industry. Alternative materials were mentioned favourably, while at the same time it was said that research and development was lacking or the they were currently too expensive. Additionally, biodegradable plastics were deemed to be too expensive. It was also said that biodegradable plastics are currently not widely available, especially not plastics that would be biodegradable in salt water and large depths. Further, some stakeholders pointed out that biodegradable material would set the wrong incentive and would lead to disposing plastic fishing gear in the sea rather than returning it to port.

Overall, the conducted interviews enriched the report with first-hand knowledge and reflected the views of major stakeholders. The interview results have been incorporated in the final report.

5.2Open Public Consultation

The Online Public Consultation (OPC) on 'Reducing marine litter: action on single-use plastics and fishing gear' launched from 15 December 2017 to 12 February 2018 complemented previous exercises conducted by the Commission, such as an OPC (October to December 2013) focussing on possible actions, by different stakeholder groups, to address the issue of marine litter 10 . Each question has been analysed by excluding all respondents not answering the question at hand. To get the complete picture, respondents were allowed to choose “Do not know” for answers, which always comprise a certain percentage. For questions with the possibility to select multiple options responses have been evaluated by amount of stakeholder responding and not by total of options mentioned. The details and highlights of the analysis are elaborated on in the following paragraph, including an overview of the responses to open questions.

Some 340 people responded to the fisheries specific part of the OPC. Of those, 24% come from academia, 21% from NGO’s, 16% from government or public authorities, 7% from fisheries organizations, 7% from business, 6% from industry and trade associations and 16% indicating “Other” as category while the remainder with less than 1% per category comes from trade unions, regional sea conventions, international bodies, intergovernmental organisations, consumer associations or European institutions.

According to the open stakeholder consultation, 95% of respondents replied positively to the statement that action to address the amount of marine litter (including fishing gear) in the seas and on beaches is necessary and urgent (Question 2b - General). Focusing specifically on the amount of fishing gear in the seas and on beaches, 79% of the respondents think that it is necessary and urgent to act (Question 2 - Specific). The issue of impacts of marine litter on fisheries and aquaculture are considered by 100% of respondents of fisheries organizations as quite or very important (Question 1 – General). Of the total respondents, 53% consider it very important or quite important. Additionally, clean-up costs of litter are considered by 84% of respondents as very important or important (Question 1 - General).

Assessing the role of stakeholders playing an important role for taking any further action the EU, Member States, Local and regional authorities, fishers and fisheries organization are considered important (Question 3 - Specific). Only other international bodies, NGOs and the private sector seem to not play such an important role for reducing leakage of fishing gear into the marine environment. Especially, the latter one is surprising as the private sector could establish extended producer responsibility schemes to reduce marine litter or redesigning fishing gear. The most important role play the fishers, as they are the direct users of the gear (80% indicate fishers as very important stakeholders in this issue).

The stakeholder consultation also asked for the assessment of the proportion of gear lost and discarded at sea per year. For all gear lost (Question A - Specific), only 1% of respondents indicate that all gear is lost on an annual basis. There is larger variation per type of fishing gear among the stakeholders indicating that most gear is lost ranging from 3% for seine nets to 23% for lines and cords. The majority of responses is that some gear is lost ranging from 28% for seine nets to 54% for gillnets. Between 6% and 28% indicate that hardly any gear is lost and between 1% and 4% none. The remainder of the respondents (between 22% and 36%) indicated that they do not know.

For all gear discarded (Question B - Specific), only between 1% and 2% indicate that all gear is discarded per year and 3-13% indicate that most gear is discarded. The majority indicate that some gear is discarded. The indication of some fishing gear discarded varies per type of fishing gear ranging between 22% for seine nets and 43% for lines and cords. Between 7% and 22% indicate that hardly any fishing gear is discarded and between 4% and 11% indicate none. Looking as reference specifically at responses from fisheries organizations about discarded gill nets, 40% claim that some are discarded, 25% hardly any and 25% none.

Analysing the open fields in the stakeholder consultation it becomes apparent that there is no widely accepted estimate for lost and discarded fishing gear out there and there is a lack of data related to this topic. Therefore the open comments varied widely from 50% loss (reference to SPEKVIS project Belgium for dolly rope) and only 0.8% for demersal gillnets (reference to Ayaz et al., 2010), with other respondents citing 10% (reference to Gilman, 2015) or 20% (anecdotal evidence). In absolute terms comments vary from 5,500-10,000 net fragments lost per year (reference to Baltic Seas 2020) to 640,000 tons lost annually worldwide (reference to Macfadyen et al., 2009).

The response of the stakeholders to the question about the selection of measures to help reduce lost and discarded gear (Question 5 - Specific, multi-option) the most selected options are:

1.Incentive to bring fished up litter and end-of-life gear ashore (88%)

2.Better collection and sorting facilities on vessels and at ports (70%)

3.Incentives/Funding of retrieval action (68%), and

4.Better enforcement of existing rules (67%)

The open field comments expanded on the list above. First, stakeholders went one step ahead by proposing EPRs as measure to reduce ALDFG. Other comments were made by stakeholders requesting higher penalties for the fishing and aquaculture industry punishing its role in the pollution. Further, several respondents elaborated on the risk and inefficiency of retrieval actions, which have to be carefully evaluated before undertaken. Other comments underpinned the importance of education and awareness raising of fishers to reduce plastic fishing and aquaculture gear ending in the seas. The introduction and enforcement of gear marking was mentioned repeatedly. Additionally, respondents highlighted that high harbour costs lead to more discarding of gear at sea, even though suitable port reception facilities exist. Lastly, several respondents agreed that the lack of suitable port facilities are a disincentive for fishers to return gear to port entering formal waste management.

One further issue revealed is reporting and retrieving of lost gear (Question 6 and 7 - Specific). 56% respond that hardly any lost gear is reported and 52% state that hardly any is retrieved. Only 3% of the respondents state that most or all is reported and only 5% state that most or all lost gear is retrieved. Gear retrieval is considered most successful if better retrieval equipment is available and more incentives to bring fished up litter and end-of-life gear ashore as well as incentives/funding of retrieval actions. In the open comments, specifically a stakeholder pointed out that often gear cannot be retrieved due to either safety limitations or simply traceability of lost gear in sea. Further, a relevant comment is that in certain countries legislation has to be changed to make gear retrieval possible as for example in Italy retrieved gear are classified as special waste and thus their disposal has to be paid by fishers.

According to the stakeholder consultation (Question 9 – Specific, multi-option), public funds should be used mainly for the recovery of marine litter found in fishing nets during normal fishing activities ("passive fishing for litter") and recovery of fishing gear and marine litter washed up on beaches. However, here stakeholders highlighted specifically that rather than public funds fishers and producers should be charged and that focus should be placed on prevention rather than retrieval. Lastly, a strong comment has been made that subsidizing the fishing gear recycling industry would be useful to help it grow and encourage better end of life treatment of fishing gear.

Further, the open stakeholder consultation addresses which additional targeted measures would support the bringing back of gear ashore (Question 10 - Specific, multi-option). Respondents favour with 59% deposit return schemes levied on fishers and with 53% extended producer responsibility scheme including a levy on gear. More than one third of the stakeholders consulted see public support as a suitable additional measure, whereas, 13% do not know and another 13% see additional other measures as useful. In the open field addressing other measures as well as additional comments, stakeholders raise doubts about deposit schemes as they might punish fishermen , who migh not get their deposit back, for unintentionally lost or not recoverably gear. Additionally, stakeholders remark that deposit schemes for gears with long lifespans render return scheme inefficient. Further, they highlight that disposal at port should not be more expensive than illegal loss at sea, wherefore an EU-wide registration of nets as well as sample controls are proposed. Lastly, a stakeholder highlighted that an exclusive focus on collection is not sufficient, therefore the focus has to be shifted to the recycling of fishing gear. However, the stakeholder points out that support is required for gear recycling companies as they face challenges selling their recycles proposing therefore an incentive for market uptake and (mandatory) use of a % recycled content in various products

Reviewing the sorting of waste at the port in line with EU waste legislation and as envisaged in the PRF proposal (Question 11 - Specific), of the 50% providing another answer than “do not know” 60% agree that there is any sorting of waste. However, the remaining 40% point out that there is no sorting of waste at ports, which are normally mandated by the Port Reception Facility Directive.

Additionally, the open stakeholder consultation sheds light on the recycling focusing on current recycling of gear and potentially recycling of gear (Question 12 - Specific). Only 6% indicate that more than 25% is recycled, however 42% of the respondents indicate that potentially more than 25% could be recycled. Further, the stakeholder consultation assesses which measures could potentially increase recycling rates (Question 13 - Specific, multi-option), which 28% indicate investment in recycling facilities and another 28% preferring the introduction of EPR or bring back schemes. Also, 26% believe that the preferred measure to increase recycling rates is to improve the transport of gear from ports to waste management/recycling facilities. 54% indicate not knowing whether re-use is undertaken in their country or sea are, 18% indicate that no re-use is happening, 21% state occasionally and only 7% say routinely (Question 14 - Specific). Lastly, an open field in the stakeholder consultation also allowed to indicate additionally which gear or material is currently recycled, which revealed an interesting fact that an Italian recycling company can only reach breakeven capacity, if used fishing nets are imported from China because they do not receive enough from Italian fisheries and ports. On the one hand repair of recycling can be also seen as a sort of recycling then leading to a 100% recycling rate, whereas on the other hand also incineration sometimes accounts for recycling rates.

Lastly, in the light of alternative product design and materials, it is assessed which gear has the best potential for substitution of plastics with other materials (Question 15 - Specific, multi-option). The answers are very equal, however among the four options cords/lines, fish aggregating devices, buoys and dolly ropes, dolly ropes is selected with the least potential despite the dolly rope free project being the only project for fishing gear attempting to replace plastics and innovate with materials.

5.3Fishing gear conclusions

The picture arising from the different sources consulted is that stakeholders highlight where action is necessary and urgent to reduce the detrimental effects of plastics from ALDFG. The policy options of extended producer responsibility and deposit scheme were favoured in addition to better port reception facilities. Analysis of the options favoured by respondents also shows that EPR combined with a deposit scheme is deemed to have positive cost-benefit effects and to contribute to the target of the plastics strategy to reduce the level of plastics in European seas.

5.4Mitigation of Stakeholder concerns

That non-EU vessels will not be covered

Fishy Filaments Ltd, a plastic recycler wrote

Increased attention to sources of nets from fishers operating in international waters, especially from fleets outside the EU (Russia, China, etc). Satellite monitoring of IUU fisheries should include assessment of net disposal actions.

At the moment, satellite technology does not allow such actions to be monitored. However, introduction of a successful system for the EU will encourage other authorities to follow suit.

That we have not adequately considered biodegradable fishing nets as a solution

Novamont SpA, manufacturers wrote

The European Commission is funding research for biodegradable applications used in the marine environment. Open-bio , follow-up project of a previous one funded under the FP7, has developed new methodologies for the analysis of marine biodegradation. Through these test methods it was possible to show that some MATER-BI materials achieved biodegradation of 90 % in less than a year. These results have been verified within the EC Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) pilot project. MATER-BI is therefore a suitable material for the production of plastic objects with high risk of dispersion in the sea (fishing gears or fish-farming gears). http://www.life-ghost.eu/index.php/en/project/objectives/8-news/109-mater-bi-of-new-generation-an-italian-biodegradable-plastic-material-to-be-used-for-fishing-gears

An NGO wrote

Prohibition of storm loss grants provided to buy new plastic pots when old ones are lost. If grants are given then only for natural materials. Jobs and revival of traditional willow and hazel pot making would benefit the industry and the target species.

Research is still at an early stage. The Commission is looking into new ways of bringing innovative ideas to market through the use of financial instruments that reduce investor risk.

That port authorities are not motivated to treat waste adequately.

A.M.A. - Associazione Mediterranea Acquacoltori wrote

Nel caso delle reti da molluschicoltura sarebbe opportuno che fossero gli allevatori a occuparsi, anche in maniera consorziate, di conferirle alle società di raccolta e smaltimento. Ora, in base alla normativa italiana, quando applicata, spetta all'autorità portuale.

The proposed Extended Producer Responsibility for fishing gear would remove responsibility from the ports. It will be up to Member States to set up an appropriate system but one would expect the producers to have a say in how it is implemented.


Annex 3: Current situation: Facts and Figures 

1Marine litter as a global issue 

Major land based sources of plastic marine litter are: storm water discharges, sewer overflows, tourism-related litter, wastes released from dumpsites near the coast or river banks, illegal dumping, industrial activities, improper transport, consumer cosmetic products, synthetic sandblasting media or polyester and acrylic fibers from washing clothes. Sea-based sources include: shipping, fishing, aquaculture and offshore.

2Litter volumes entering the oceans

It is estimated 11 that 4.8 to 12.7 million tonnes of plastic waste enter our oceans per year. These figures need to be treated with caution but they do give an idea of magnitude of the problem. 

Figure 1. Plastic waste available to enter the oceans (million tonnes) (2010) 12

According to Jambeck et al. (2015) 13 , over 50% of the global leakage into the marine environment currently comes from five emerging markets in Asia.

River networks facilitate the transport of plastics, thus connecting most of the global land surface to the ocean 14 . According to Schmidt et al. (2017), rivers from the 10 top-ranked catchments contribute between 88% and 94% of the total plastic debris (again, figures to be treated with caution).

3Accumulation of plastics in the environment 

Since 1980, over 150 million tonnes of plastic marine litter are estimated to have accumulated, out of which between 1.4 and 3.7 million tonnes in the EU. Deep-sea sediments accumulate microplastics and retention of macro and microplastics in particular sea-bed locations is increased by topographic features. Research 15 suggests that Europeans currently consume up to 11,000 pieces of plastic in their food each year as a result of consumption of seafood.

Waste patches in the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans are estimated to be around 100 Mt, about 80% of which is plastic. Plastic is accumulating in the Mediterranean Sea at a similar scale to that in oceanic gyres (the rotating ocean currents in the Indian Ocean, North Atlantic, North Pacific, South Atlantic and South Pacific) 16 . Plastic debris found in the Mediterranean surface waters are composed by millimetre-sized fragments, together with a proportion of large plastic objects, larger than the one present in oceanic gyres.

Figure 2. Size distribution and aspect of the floating plastic debris collected in the Mediterranean Sea 17

The accumulation of plastic in the Mediterranean Sea is likely to be the result of a significant regional plastic input combined with a limited export to the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to this, the Mediterranean Sea acts as a convective basin, absorbing floating plastic originating from the Atlantic and many other terrestrial and maritime sources (e.g. the inputs from the Nile River). The figure below shows the concentrations of plastic debris in surface waters of the Mediterranean Sea compared to the plastic concentrations reported for the global ocean. 18

Figure 3. Concentrations of plastic debris in surface waters of the Mediterranean Sea compared to the plastic concentrations reported for the global ocean 19

4Marine litter from Europe

5Marine litter measurement

The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) requirement to ensure that properties and quantities of litter do not cause harm to the environment implies that baselines and threshold values have to be set at EU level. This work is being coordinated at EU level and a related JRC report 20 on the most frequently found litter items on beaches provides a good assessment of marine litter. This work is ongoing with a view to facilitate reaching the aspirational target of the Circular Economy Package to reduce by 30% the amount of beach litter and fishing gear lost at sea by 2020. 

The European Marine Observation and Data Network EMODnet partnership in collaboration with regional sea conventions are assembling and harmonising the data in order to provide a better overall picture of the concentrations in European seas and sea-beds that will help assess progress in meeting targets and support remedial action. Additional data will be made publicly available during 2018.

The European Environmental Agency EEA has developed Marine Litter Watch 21 , a citizen science based tool that can help fill data gaps relevant for policy, while raising awareness about the problem of litter and the policy response to it; it is already being used in European-wide campaigns and complements many private initiative tools.

EU funding is being deployed to understand marine litter 22 , supporting global, national and regional action.

For the purpose of this Impact Assessment, the best information comes from beach counts. The table below shows information about marine litter items found on European Beaches from the JRC’s Technical Group of Marine Litter Activities (monitoring programmes, clean-up campaigns and research projects), collected from 276 beaches of 17 EU Member States and 4 Regional Seas during the year 2016. A total of 355,671 items observed during 679 surveys are ranked by abundance, mainly according to the MSFD Master List Categories of Beach Litter Items.

Table 1: Marine litter items found on European beaches, share (%) by item-count, top 80%, 2016

The following table shows the same information but along with a longer list covering the top 125 along with the code and number of items found.

Table 2: Marine litter items found on European beaches, share (%) by item-count, 2016

Ranking

Material

General Name Litter Item

Master List Code

Number of Items

%

1

Plastic

Plastic/polystyrene pieces 2,5cm > < 50cm

G76

49082

13,80%

2

Plastic

String and cord (diameter less than 1cm)

G50

48919

13,75%

3

Plastic

Plastic/polystyrene pieces 0-2,5cm

G75

44309

12,46%

4

Plastic

Cigarette butts and filters

G27

21854

6,14%

5

Plastic

Plastic caps and lids (drinks, chemicals, detergents (non-food), unidentified)/plastic rings from bottle caps/lids

G20-G24

14064

3,95%

6

Plastic

Cotton bud sticks

G95

13579

3,82%

7

Chemicals

Paraffin/Wax

G213

10305

2,90%

8

Plastic

Crisps packets/sweets wrappers

G30

10267

2,89%

9

Plastic

Other plastic/polystyrene items (identifiable)

G124

10142

2,85%

10

unidentified

Other medical items (swabs, bandaging, adhesive plaster etc.)

G211

5841

1,64%

11

Plastic

Other (e.g. diapers, toilet paper, tissue paper, shaving razors)

GX1

5077

1,43%

12

Plastic

Foam sponge

G73

4156

1,17%

13

Plastic

Plastic/polystyrene pieces > 50cm

G77

4103

1,15%

14

Glass/Ceramics

Bottles incl. pieces

G200

3818

1,07%

15

Plastic

Beverage Bottles Plastic

G6-G8

3776

1,06%

16

Plastic

Knives, forks, spoons, straws, stirrers, (cutlery)

G34-G35

3666

1,03%

17

Plastic

Nets and pieces of net > 50cm

G54

3499

0,98%

18

Plastic

Plastic pieces 2,5cm > < 50cm

G79

2878

0,81%

19

Plastic

Sanitary towels/panty liners/backing strips

G96

2877

0,81%

20

Plastic

Rope (diameter more than 1cm)

G49

2792

0,78%

21

Plastic

Plastic caps/lids drinks

G21

2605

0,73%

22

Rubber

Balloons and balloon sticks

G125

2542

0,71%

23

Plastic

Shopping bags

G3

2520

0,71%

24

Plastic

Plastic pieces 0-2,5cm

G78

2504

0,70%

25

Processed/worked wood

Other wood < 50cm

G171

2468

0,69%

26

Paper/Cardboard

Other paper items

G158

2402

0,68%

27

Rubber

Other rubber pieces

G134

2385

0,67%

28

Plastic

Polystyrene pieces 0-2,5cm

G81

2385

0,67%

29

Metal

Cans (beverage)

G175

2373

0,67%

30

Plastic

Food containers incl. fast food containers

G10

2330

0,66%

31

Plastic

Shotgun cartridges

G70

2263

0,64%

32

Plastic

Strapping bands

G66

2239

0,63%

33

Plastic

Small plastic bags, e.g. freezer bags

G4

2131

0,60%

34

Plastic

Tangled nets/cord

G56

2108

0,59%

35

Plastic

Cups and cup lids

G33

1995

0,56%

36

Metal

Bottle caps, lids and pull tabs

G178

1982

0,56%

37

Paper/Cardboard

Cigarette packets

G152

1948

0,55%

38

Plastic

Nets and pieces of net < 50cm

G53

1865

0,52%

39

Glass/Ceramics

Other glass items

G210

1710

0,48%

40

Glass/Ceramics

Construction material (brick, cement, pipes)

G204

1626

0,46%

41

Plastic

Sheets, industrial packaging, plastic sheeting

G67

1441

0,41%

42

Metal

Foil wrappers, aluminium foil

G177

1414

0,40%

43

Plastic

Fishing line/monofilament (angling)

G59

1351

0,38%

44

Cloth/Textile

Clothing/rags (clothing, hats, towels)

G137

1250

0,35%

45

Plastic

Toys & party poppers

G32

1234

0,35%

46

Plastic

Drink bottles ≤ 0,5l

G7

1188

0,33%

47

Plastic

Caps/lids

G21-G23

1160

0,33%

48

Plastic

Cleaner bottles & containers

G9

1148

0,32%

49

Plastic

Mussel nets, Oyster nets

G45

1142

0,32%

50

Metal

Household batteries

G195

1132

0,32%

51

Plastic

Drink bottles > 0,5l

G8

1131

0,32%

52

Plastic

Plastic bags (opaque and clear)

G2-G4

1093

0,31%

53

Plastic

Polystyrene pieces 2,5cm > < 50cm

G82

1039

0,29%

54

Cloth/Textile

Other textiles (incl. rags)

G145

1022

0,29%

55

Paper/Cardboard

Cups, food trays, food wrappers, drink containers

G153

956

0,27%

56

Processed/worked wood

Ice-cream sticks, chip forks, chopsticks, toothpicks

G165

850

0,24%

57

Plastic

Cigarette lighters

G26

795

0,22%

58

Cloth/Textile

Tampons and tampon applicators

G144

789

0,22%

59

Plastic

Foam packaging/insulation/polyurethane

G74

752

0,21%

60

Processed/worked wood

Other wood > 50cm

G172

717

0,20%

61

Glass/Ceramics

Glass or ceramic fragments > 2,5cm

G208

714

0,20%

62

Paper & cardboard

Paper (including newspapers and magazines)

G154-G157

694

0,20%

63

Plastic

Pens and pen lids

G28

642

0,18%

64

Plastic

Rope, string, cord

G49-G50

629

0,18%

65

Plastic

Shoes/sandals

G71

623

0,18%

66

Plastic

Other bottles & containers (drums)

G13

617

0,17%

67

Plastic

Crisp/sweet packets and lolly sticks

G30-G31

593

0,17%

68

Plastic

Plastic caps/lids unidentified

G23

576

0,16%

69

Plastic

Straws and stirrers

G35

566

0,16%

70

Paper/Cardboard

Cardboard (boxes and fragments)

G148

557

0,16%

71

Plastic

Plastic Pieces

G74-G83/G103-G106/G122

545

0,15%

72

Plastic

Cutlery and trays

G34

537

0,15%

73

Plastic

Medical/pharmaceuticals containers/tubes

G100

495

0,14%

74

Metal

Other metal pieces > 50cm

G199

482

0,14%

75

Rubber

Condoms (incl. packaging)

G133

480

0,13%

76

Plastic

Floats/buoys

G62-G63

478

0,13%

77

Plastic

Light sticks (tubes with fluid) incl. packaging

G60

458

0,13%

78

Metal

Wire, wire mesh, barbed wire

G191

455

0,13%

79

Plastic

Mesh vegetable bags

G37

452

0,13%

80

Plastic

Gloves (industrial/professional rubber gloves)

G41

445

0,13%

81

Paper/Cardboard

Cartons/tetrapak (others)

G151

434

0,12%

82

Plastic

Beach use related cosmetic bottles and containers, e.g. sunblockers

G11

422

0,12%

83

Plastic

Plastic bag collective role; what remains from rip-off plastic bags

G5

420

0,12%

84

Plastic

4/6-pack yokes, six-pack rings

G1

369

0,10%

85

Metal

Aerosol/spray cans (industry)

G174

369

0,10%

86

Plastic

Food containers, cups and cup lids

G10/G33

362

0,10%

87

Processed/worked wood

Corks

G159

348

0,10%

88

Paper/Cardboard

Newspapers and magazines

G154

337

0,09%

89

Wood

Processed timber and pallet

G160-G161

327

0,09%

90

Plastic

Bottles & jars

G6

322

0,09%

91

Metal

Gas bottles, drums and buckets (> 4L)

G189

320

0,09%

92

Glass/Ceramics

Light bulbs

G202

294

0,08%

93

Cloth/Textile

Shoes and sandals (e.g. leather, cloth)

G138

275

0,08%

94

Rubber

Tyres and belts

G128

259

0,07%

95

Cloth/Textile

Rope, string and nets

G142

243

0,07%

96

Processed/worked wood

Paint brushes

G166

234

0,07%

97

Cloth/Textile

Carpet and furnishing

G141

232

0,07%

98

Metal

Industrial scrap

G186

232

0,07%

99

Metal

Cans (food)

G176

210

0,06%

100

Metal

Other metal pieces < 50cm

G198

208

0,06%

101

Plastic

Lolly sticks

G31

204

0,06%

102

Cloth/Textile

Sacking (hessian)

G140

203

0,06%

103

Plastic

Crates and containers/baskets

G18

199

0,06%

104

Plastic

Other cosmetic bottles & containers

G12

190

0,05%

105

Plastic

Plastic rings from bottle caps/lids

G24

185

0,05%

106

Plastic

Buckets

G65

179

0,05%

107

Plastic

Dog faeces bag

G101

178

0,05%

108

Paper/Cardboard

Paper bags

G147

178

0,05%

109

Organic

Fruit, food, pastry, candy and ice cream

GX21

176

0,05%

110

Plastic

Tags (fishing and industry)

G43

174

0,05%

111

Plastic

Jerry cans (square plastic containers with handle)

G16

170

0,05%

112

Plastic

Injection gun containers

G17

168

0,05%

113

Rubber

Balloons, balls and toys

G125-G126

164

0,05%

114

Plastic

Combs/hair brushes/sunglasses

G29

161

0,05%

115

Plastic

Syringes/needles

G99

160

0,04%

116

Pollutants

Wax small

GX2

153

0,04%

117

Plastic

Food containers, candy wrappers, cups and cup lids

G10/G30/G33

147

0,04%

118

Plastic

Tobacco pouches/plastic cigarette box packaging

G25

147

0,04%

119

Paper/Cardboard

Cartons/tetrapak milk

G150

145

0,04%

120

Plastic

Engine oil bottles & containers < 50 cm

G14

140

0,04%

121

Plastic

Car parts

G19

135

0,04%

122

Plastic

Gloves (washing up)

G40

132

0,04%

123

Plastic

Crab/lobster pots and tops

G42

120

0,03%

124

Plastic

Plastic sheeting from mussel culture (Tahitians)

G47

119

0,03%

125

Plastic

Fibre glass/fragments

G68

113

0,03%

Two items in the original long list merit some further explanation. “Other medical items” is rather a group that would need to be disaggregated into several items, each of which will then have a much smaller part in marine litter. Only parts of these are plastics. Foam sponge is coming from several products, mostly from different kind of matrasses, which are multi use. Such a product would call for a completely different policy approach.

A significant type - making up around half of marine litter - is ‘single-use plastics’. Marine litter from sea-based sources is also significant: plastic waste generated on boats and ships, fishing gear, and plastics used in aquaculture are more likely to end up in the marine environment (abandoned, lost and otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG)).

The analysis of the beach litter reveals that 49% of all identifiable marine litter items, are single-use plastic items, while 33% are other plastic items such as those associated with fishing or items not considered to be single-use; and 18% are non-plastic items.

Figure 4: Composition of marine litter

Figure 2. Composition of items found in nets in western Atlantic and Baltic (2011-2017)

Source: ICES DATRAS database 23 and analysed by EMODnet 24

Harmonisation of records of marine litter composition on seafloor is also underway. Figure 2 shows what has been brought up in the nets of fishing vessels 2011-2017 25 . It covers an analysis of nearly 3,000 hauls throughout the western Atlantic Ocean and the Baltic Sea.

Figure 3. Composition of Marine Litter

Source: Eunomia, based on JRC data

The following table provides another perspective, viewing the data from the question of whether they are packaging or not and SUP or not.

Table 3: Marine litter items – splits by single-use categories

Supercategories, item type

Amount

% Amount

Amount as % of supercategory

PLASTIC

Cigarette butts, Paper/plastic

27416

7%

19%

Caps and lids - drinks, Plastic

18417

5%

13%

Cotton bud sticks, Sanitary

13928

4%

10%

Crisps packets / sweets wrappers, Plastic

11366

3%

8%

Other, identifiable, non-packaging, non SUP <100 items,

Plastic, Polystyrene, Rubber

10841

3%

8%

Drinks bottles, Plastic

7716

2%

5%

Other, Sanitary

5840

2%

4%

Sanpro - Towels / panty liners / backing strips;

Tampon applicators / tampons, Sanitary

3704

1.0%

3%

Shopping bags, Plastic

3700

1.0%

3%

Other bottles, Plastic

3460

0.9%

2%

Other bags, Plastic

3280

0.9%

2%

Straws and stirrers, Plastic

3040

0.8%

2%

Balloons and balloon sticks

2723

0.7%

2%

Food containers inc fast food packaging, Plastic, Polystyrene

2715

0.7%

2%

Cup and cup lids, Plastic, Polystyrene, Paper/plastic

2618

0.7%

2%

Cutlery, Plastic

2597

0.7%

2%

Strapping bands, Plastic

2321

0.6%

2%

Shotgun cartridges, Plastic

2279

0.6%

2%

Sheets, industrial packaging, plastic sheeting

1493

0.4%

1%

Toys & party poppers, Plastic

1492

0.4%

1%

On-the-go food, drinks use, Paper/Plastic

1218

0.3%

1%

Pens and pen lids, Plastic

951

0.3%

1%

Caps and lids - other, Plastic

943

0.2%

1%

Cigarette lighters, Plastic

905

0.2%

1%

Other, unidentifiable packaging, Plastic

774

0.2%

1%

Shoes / sandals, Plastic, Rubber

761

0.2%

1%

Gloves, Plastic, Rubber

618

0.2%

0.4%

Mesh bags, sacks, Plastic

550

0.1%

0.4%

Medical / pharmaceuticals containers / tubes, Sanitary

497

0.1%

0.4%

Cartons / tetrapak (others), Paper/Plastic

474

0.1%

0.3%

4/6-pack yokes, six-pack rings, Plastic

398

0.1%

0.3%

Lolly sticks, Plastic

368

0.1%

0.3%

Wheels, tyres, belts, Plastic, Rubber

287

0.1%

0.2%

Tobacco pouches / plastic cigarette box packaging, Plastic

233

0.1%

0.2%

Crates and containers / baskets, Plastic

217

0.1%

0.2%

Combs/hair brushes/sunglasses, Plastic

214

0.1%

0.2%

Cartons / tetrapak milk, Paper/Plastic

203

0.1%

0.1%

Car parts, Plastic

185

0.0%

0.1%

Injection gun containers, Plastic

172

0.0%

0.1%

Other, packaging <100 items, Plastic

163

0.0%

0.1%

Plastic construction waste

141

0.0%

0.1%

Nappies, Sanitary

32

0.0%

0.0%

Other, SUP, non-packaging <100 items, Plastic

26

0.0%

0.0%

Subtotal

141277

37%

100%

NON-PLASTIC

Bottles, Glass, Ceramic

4497

1%

10%

Bottle caps, Metal

2968

1%

6%

Drinks cans, Metal

2760

1%

6%

On-the-go food, drinks use, Wood

969

0.3%

2%

Bags, Paper

195

0.1%

0.4%

Other packaging, Non-plastic

6456

2%

14%

Other, identifiable, Non-plastic

29014

8%

62%

Subtotal

46859

12%

100%

Fishing, PLASTIC

Line, Rope, Chord, Plastic, Textiles

56333

15%

86%

Fishing net & pieces, Plastic

5659

1%

9%

Octopus/Lobster/Crab pots & tops, Plastic

177

0.0%

0.3%

Other fishing related, non-packaging,

Plastic, Polystyrene, Rubber, Textiles

2310

1%

4%

Other fishing related, packaging, Plastic, Polystyrene

780

0.2%

1%

Subtotal

65259

17%

100%

Fishing, NON-PLASTIC

Fishing items, non-packaging, Non-plastic

95

0.03%

90%

Fishing items, packaging, Non-plastic

11

0.00%

10%

Subtotal

106

0.03%

100%

UNIDENTIFIED

Non-identifiable, Plastic, Polystyrene, Rubber

115281

31%

93%

Non-identifiable, Non-plastic

9047

2%

7%

Subtotal

124328

33%

100%

Grand total

377829

100%

Finally, the contribution of fisheries and aquaculture related activities to marine litter is significant as around 17% of beach litter items found on beaches are likely to come from these activities. This is mostly as pieces of gear, boxes and bags for packaging fish and feeds, and personal protection equipment such as gloves and boots (the third of our above 3 categories to which both aquaculture and fishing contribute), when ALDFG (the other two categories to which only fishing is likely to contribute) are more likely to be found on the sea floor. However, fishing gear litter at beaches is a more ambivalent approximation for its total abundance than for SUP, seen that e.g. abandoned nets due to their density or entanglements are more likely to be prevalent on sea floors.

Table 4: Marine litter items – splits by fishing categories

Rank

General name

Items

% of all ML

1

String and cord (diameter less than 1cm)

48919

13,75%

1

Nets and pieces of net > 50cm

3499

0,98%

2

Tangled nets / cord

2108

0,59%

3

Nets and pieces of net < 50cm

1865

0,52%

4

Fishing line / monofilament (angling)

1351

0,38%

5

Mussel nets, Oyster nets

1142

0,32%

6

Floats/Buoys

478

0,13%

7

Rope, string and nets

243

0,07%

8

Tags (fishing and industry)

174

0,05%

9

Crab / lobster pots and tops

120

0,03%

10

Fish boxes

104

0,03%

11

Fish boxes - expanded polystyrene

68

0,02%

12

Fishing related (weights, sinkers, lures, hooks)

58

0,02%

13

Octopus pots

53

0,01%

14

Fishing line (entangled)

50

0,01%

15

Oyster trays (round from oyster cultures)

27

0,01%

16

Other fishing related

20

0,01%

17

Fish boxes - plastic

17

0,00%

18

Buoys

15

0,00%

19

Fish boxes

11

0,00%

20

Fishing net

11

0,00%

21

Foam buoys

11

0,00%

22

Fishing gear (lures, traps and pots)

10

0,00%

23

Lobster / crab pots

6

0,00%

24

Mesh bags (vegetable, oyster nets and mussel bags)

5

0,00%

25

Nets and pieces of net

5

0,00%

26

Fishing related (sinkers, lures, hooks, traps and pots)

4

0,00%

27

Crab / lobster pots

4

0,00%

28

Fishing Net Pieces

3

0,00%

29

Fish hook remains

2

0,00%

30

Octopus pots

2

0,00%

31

Fishing Buoys Pots Traps

1

0,00%

Around one third of the marine litter found cannot be identified in terms of its source, but it can be assumed that its source is broadly the same as the identified items. 26  

6Methodological note on beach litter as a proxy for sea litter

Beach litter can arrive to the shore by: Transport from the sea, by tidal action, waves, currents; Dropping, loss on the beach; Transportation from land by run-off, rivers, wind or other relocation. Beach litter is therefore used not only as a proxy for what comes from the sea, but also for what can potential enter the sea (or affect marine species on the beach, also including the socioeconomic harm on tourism caused by littered beaches). The proportion of the three pathways (the third one presumably being of less importance) will depend much on the local situation including frequentation by visitors/tourists (littering locally) and the beach morphology (sand, gravel, slope, exposition). Note that most touristic beaches with regular (even daily) cleaning are not considered by the monitoring schemes.  

A general comment about beach litter data quality is that most of the data have been derived from observations and from clean-up events. There is now longstanding experience and the use and harmonisation of monitoring protocols has improved the situation. Still beach litter monitoring is not as precise as e.g. chemical contaminant measurements. The fate (and thus concentration) of litter items on the beaches depends on multiple factors, on top of the observer induced variability. This concerns e.g. wind (sweet wrappers can easily be blown away (and be blown back)), and visitor number (plastic items can be mixed under soft sand), etc., thus changing the observed items, while they can still affect the environment. Therefore this type of data can only be interpreted in a statistical distribution way and being aware of the variability 27 .

For the sea surface harmonised methodologies are still being set-up. For seafloor litter data from International Bottom Trawling Surveys are available. The MSFD Technical Group on Marine Litter is working on the updating of the MSFD Guidance on litter monitoring 28 .

7Evolution of marine litter over time

Time series data from marine litter monitoring programmes (OSPAR, 2012) do not indicate a reduction of the amount of marine litter in European seas.

Figure 5: Marine litter found on European shores (number of items per 100m of coastline)

Source: OSPAR (in Panteia, 2015)

8Categorisation of marine litter

Marine litter is usually categorised using the MSFD Master List Categories of Beach Litter Items that is the approach to provide a consistent identification of litter categories across Europe. There are still different lists in use, some of them not easily comparable across all categories. The MSFD Technical Group is tackling that issue in its 2018 work programme. This sets out a number of types and their most prominent sources.

Table 5: Marine Conservation Society full list of litter items and attributed sources (MCS, 2013)

Public Litter:

4/6 pack yokes, plastic bags (including supermarket), plastic drinks bottles, plastic food containers, plastic toiletries bottles, plastic caps / lids, cigarette lighters / tobacco pouches, combs / hair brushes / sunglasses, crisp / sweet / lolly / sandwich wrappers, cutlery / trays / straws / cups, pens, plastic shoes / sandals, shotgun cartridges, toys / party poppers / fireworks / dummies, polystyrene fast food containers / cups, balloons / balloon string, clothing / shoes / beach towels, disposable barbecues, metal bottle caps, metal drink cans, foil wrappers, household batteries, animal faeces in bags, animal faeces not in bags, paper bags, cartons / tetrapak (e.g. fruit juice), cigarette packets, cigarette stubs, paper cups, newspapers / magazines, corks, ice lolly sticks / chip forks, glass bottles, glass pieces.

Fishing:

Fish boxes, fishing line, fishing net and net pieces <50cm, fishing net and net pieces >50cm, floats (fishing buoys) / reels, plastic lobster / crab pots and tops, string and cord diameter <1cm, polystyrene buoys, polystyrene fish boxes, rubber boots, heavy duty gloves, tyres with holes, fishing weights / hooks / lures, metal lobster / crab pots and tops, wood lobster / crab pots and tops.

Sewage-Related Debris:

Condoms, cotton bud sticks, nappies, tampon applicators / tampons, toilet fresheners, towels / panty liners / plastic backing strips, wet wipes, other sanitary items.

Shipping:

Plastic cleaner bottles, foreign plastic bottles, plastic oil bottles, industrial packaging / crates / sheeting, mesh bags (e.g. vegetable), Rope diameter >1 cm, strapping bands, aerosol cans, metal food cans, oil drums, cartons / purepak (e.g. milk), pallets / crates, light bulbs / tubes.

Fly Tipped:

Traffic cones, tyres without holes / wheels, cloth furnishings, car parts / car batteries, scrap metal / appliances / paint tins, pottery / ceramic.

Medical:

Inhalers, plasters, syringes, other medical items.

Non-Sourced:

Plastic pieces <2.5cm, plastic pieces >2.5cm, other plastics, fibreglass, foam / sponge / insulation, polystyrene packaging, polystyrene pieces <50cm, other polystyrene items, light weight gloves, rubber pieces <50cm, other rubber items, cloth pieces, sacking, other cloth items, wire / wire mesh / metal pieces, other metal items, cardboard, other paper items, paint brushes, wood pieces (not twigs), other wood items.

9Travelling of marine litter

It is common to ask where the litter found on a particular beach has come from. This can be estimated using labels and bar-codes on litter, which provides information on the country of production, the manufacturer, the product type and the age of litter items. However, labels can be lost or become illegible and only items with a label or bar-code (not items like cigarette butts or cotton-bud-sticks) can be included in the analysis and sometimes the bar code could be misleading (bought in one country, discarded in another). Therefore, this type of information should be analysed with caution.

Van Franeker (2005) categorised items found on a beach clean in Texel in the Netherlands to a country of origin. The majority of items originated from the Netherlands or neighbouring regions, indicating that this method can be used to provide information on the likelihood of litter items originating form given sources as well as on their geographical origin (see below).

Figure 6: Proportions of countries of origin as derived from barcodes or label information on litter items found on Texel, April 2005 (translated from van Franeker, 2005)

10Marine litter aggregation – creating a ‘top 10’

11General data

The MSFD Master List Categories of Beach Litter Items is highly detailed. This makes sense for identifying what is on beaches, but it makes less sense from a policy perspective. For this reason, categories that are very similar have been grouped together (aggregated).

The JRC Technical Report: Top Marine Beach Litter Items in Europe lists marine litter items collected in 2016. The JRC list identifies 251 different types of litter and a total of 355,744 items. First, as the list does not identify plastics specifically, or single-use items, the list was divided into plastic, non-plastic and fishing items. Plastic items were then assessed as single-use or non-SUP.

As countries and regions have adopted different methods, there is significant over-lap between some categories (such as “4/6-pack yokes, six-pack rings” and “4/6-pack yokes, six-pack rings/bags/shopping bags including pieces/small plastic bags, e.g. freezer bags including pieces”) and some items could potentially be listed in a number of categories.

The JRC list was then used to compile a shorter list of discrete classifications that provide the relative contributions of items that are alike in terms of source, use or material and are generally under the domain of a defined policy area. From the JRC list, 31 SUP categories were disaggregated so that the items could be re-allocated to different groups. For example, “Food containers, sweet wrappers, cups” was divided into: “Food containers including fast food packaging”; “Cups and cup lids”; and “Crisps packets/ sweet wrappers”, as illustrated below.

Figure 7: The disaggregation of “Food containers, sweet wrappers, cups”

The process for apportioning the items affects the final rankings and there is no completely objective way to do this. The method adopted ensures that the top ten items reflect an accurate assessment of the data collected from the disparate studies, without misrepresenting the prevalence of any given item.

The items were disaggregated proportionally, based on the compositions of other categories with similar items. For example, food containers were known to account for 16% of the total number of original items in the three categories “Food containers, sweet wrappers and cups”, therefore were disaggregated (2,330 out of 14,592). It was assumed that 16% of those 147 items were food containers and 23.5% were re-allocated to “food containers, including fast food packaging”.

Once the broader groupings had been disaggregated into the most relevant specific category, they were aggregated into similar categories and those where, for the purpose of this analysis, it was not important to distinguish between relatively similar items. Considering material composition, manufacturing, usage and policy approach, for instance, it was not considered necessary to distinguish between crisp packets and sweet wrappers. Conversely, sweet wrappers and food containers are qualitatively different, so are split. Similarly, beverage bottles were disaggregated from other types of plastic bottle.

This process generated 17 classifications of SUP, representing 141,277 units; Figure 8 illustrates the composition of one of these 17 classifications.

Figure 8: The aggregation of “Crisps packets/ sweet wrappers”

The table below lists the top ten items following the disaggregation and aggregation process. The complete list, including a full breakdown of the categories contributing to the top ten and the proportions allocated, is included in Annex 1 (Eunomia report).

The table demonstrates that by focussing on these items, potentially 77% of the general plastic items found on beaches can be addressed by the measures proposed; while a full 86% of the single-use plastic items that are found on beaches could be addressed.

Table 6: Top ten SUP Items

Ranking

Item

Total Number

on sample of beaches monitored in 2016

%

as proportion of general plastic items1

Cumulative %

of items in scope as a proportion of general plastic items1

%

as proportion of single-use plastic items2

Cumulative %

of items in scope as a proportion of single-use plastic items2

1

Drinks bottles, caps and lids

24,541

19%

19%

21%

21%

2

Cigarette butts

21,854

17%

36%

19%

39%

3

Cotton buds sticks

13,616

11%

46%

12%

51%

4

Crisp packets/ sweet wrappers

10,952

9%

55%

9%

61%

5

Sanitary applications

9,493

7%

62%

8%

69%

6

Plastic bags (CBD & non-CBD)

6,410

5%

67%

6%

74%

7

Cutlery, straws and stirrers

4,769

4%

71%

4%

79%

8

Drinks cups and cup lids

3,232

3%

73%

3%

81%

9

Balloons and balloon sticks

2,706

2%

75%

2%

84%

10

Food containers incl. fast food packaging

2,602

2%

77%

2%

86%

1”General plastic items” – is the group of items excluding non-identifiable items such as fragments, non-plastic items, and items associated with fishing and aquaculture.

2”Single-use plastic items -– is the group of items excluding non-identifiable items such as fragments, non-plastic items, items associated with fishing and aquaculture, and non-single-use plastics.

Some understanding of the aggregation groups is needed. For example, Sanitary applications are a fairly aggregated category, and comprise a number of different items:

·Wet wipes

·Sanitary towels/ panty liners/ backing strips;

·Sanitary (nappies, cotton buds, tampon applicators, toothbrushes);

·Tampons and tampon applicators;

·Other (e.g. diapers, toilet paper, tissue paper, shaving razors);

·Toilet fresheners;

·Syringes/ needles; and

·Condoms (including packaging).

This list is based on the MSFD or OSPAR category codes, where wet wipes is not a separate category. The UK and the Republic of Ireland are the only locations where the frequency of wet-wipes is recorded as a specific category. The data comes from parallel monitoring efforts – the Great British Beach Clean (run by the Marine Conservation Society – MCS) in the UK and the Clean Coasts Big Beach Clean in the Republic of Ireland. These produced the following statistics:

·UK – wet wipes are 45% of sanitary items. When cotton buds are separated out (as our analysis for the top ten does), they constitute 80% of sanitary items; and

·Republic of Ireland – wet wipes are 51% of sanitary items. Excluding cotton buds, they are 72% of sanitary items.

None of the other nations collect litter data on wet wipes as a distinct category. However, they may well be a dominant part of this category.

Table 7: Additional ranked SUP items

Ranking

Item

Total Number

on sample of beaches monitored in 2016

%

as proportion of general plastic items1

Cumulative %

of items in scope as a proportion of general plastic items1

%

as proportion of single-use plastic items2

Cumulative %

of items in scope as a proportion of single-use plastic items2

11

Shotgun cartridges, Plastic

2263

2%

79%

2%

88%

12

Strapping bands, Plastic

2239

2%

81%

2%

90%

13

Cigarette lighters, Plastic

795

1%

82%

1%

91%

14

4/6-pack yokes, six-pack rings, Plastic

372

0%

82%

0%

91%

15

Lolly sticks, Plastic

216

0%

82%

0%

91%

16

Tobacco pouches / plastic cigarette box packaging, Plastic

148

0%

82%

0%

91%

17

Nappies, Sanitary

21

0%

82%

0%

91%

1”General plastic items” – is the group of items excluding non-identifiable items such as fragments, non-plastic items, and items associated with fishing and aquaculture.

2”Single-use plastic items -– is the group of items excluding non-identifiable items such as fragments, non-plastic items, items associated with fishing and aquaculture, and non-single-use plastics.

12Regional seas data

Findings vary to some extent across Europe depending on region (and indeed vary by beach within a given region):

·North-East Atlantic: Maritime activities – fishing, commercial shipping, ferries and cruise shipping, leisure boat traffic, offshore installations and aquaculture facilities – and land-based tourism and recreational activities account for about 80 per cent of waste input. Other sources include discharges from municipal waste through rivers and canals, and solid waste from industrial facilities, dumpsites or sewage systems near the coast.

·Baltic Sea: The majority of the finds can be traced to consumer waste, with a relatively high share of household goods and equipment associated with tourism (including toiletries). Its input path is rivers and coastlines. The greatest sea-based source of input is the fishing industry.

·Mediterranean Sea: Land-based sources account for the majority: about 40-50 per cent of litter input owes to tourism, with volumes rising significantly during the holiday season. An estimated additional 40 per cent consists of household items (including toiletries). In addition to inputs from the fishing industry, cigarette butts are also present on a substantial scale along the Mediterranean.

·Black Sea: Relatively little data is available, and the results of investigations differ both regionally and locally. Some data points to municipal waste which is discharged in sewage, e.g. from poorly managed dumpsites, as a dominant factor. Next are inputs from maritime transport, ports and coastal tourism. Investigations at beaches near Constanta in Romania, however, indicate that the main local source of input is tourism (inland and coastal), followed by part-time fisheries. Many household items (including toiletries) are also found. Illegal fishing activities are also identified repeatedly as a major source.

Analysis of top 10 by regional sea

The regional data was analysed to understand whether the problem appeared to be constrained to certain areas of the EU or whether it was wide spread. The total counts vary significantly by sea, related to the length of coastline and number of surveys. It is clear that the Black and Mediterranean Seas have higher incidences of SUP items in the beach counts.

Figure 9: Proportion of top 10 items in total beach litter counts

Secondly, the relative shares of the key items vary by sea but all items are present in all seas. The supposed lack of straws in the NE Atlantic is a factor of the categorisations, rather than an absence of the items.

Whilst distributions vary, the top 10 categories account for a large proportion of SUPs in each sea, but with variation in the rankings (so what is first somewhere, may be 5th elsewhere but there is no evidence that as a grouping the top 10 does not seem reasonable prioritisation in each sea). The regional seas analysis, therefore, suggests that the top ten list above is suitable for analysis in this Impact Assessment.


Figure 10: Relative shares of key items by sea

13Pathways for marine litter

In general terms, the key pathways for the SUP items to reach the marine environment, are:

·Consumers drop litter on the ground in the urban or rural environments. This is to some extent due to the lack of convenience of the alternative, i.e. responsible management, but also the lack on incentives, economic or otherwise, to do the right thing. Many consumers will do the right thing, but a section of society is either unaware or uncaring of the consequences of dropping litter; and

·Consumers flush items down the toilet or drains (e.g. cotton buds, wet-wipes and sanitary towels). The driver in this instance is somewhat convenience but potentially more weighted towards perceived health risks from dealing with soiled sanitary items, or from the assumption that they will be properly treated in the sewerage system (ie few people understand that a flushed cotton bud stick may end up in the sea).


Figure 11: SUP pathways

The following table looks at this more closely for specific items, and elaborates the transport mechanism and sources.

Table 8: Examples of sources, means of release, geographic origin, pathways and transport mechanism for a few marine litter items found on the Northern coast of Germany 29

Source

Means of release

Geographic origin

Pathway

Transport mechanism

COTTON BUD STICKS

Consumers / General Public

Improper disposal down the toilet

Households

Sewage systems and/or rivers

Sewage, rivers, ocean currents and tides

PLASTIC BAGS

Coastal tourism & recreation

Littering (e.g. on beach)

Local (e.g. coastal town or beach nearby)

Direct entry (beach) or e.g. windblown (if town nearby)

Wind and tides

Consumers / General Public

Littering (e.g. on street, from car, in natural area)

e.g. Distant (inland town)

Distant - Wind (blown) and/or rivers

Wind, rivers, ocean current and tides

Waste management at beach

Overflowing open bin

Beach

Direct input

Wind, tides and currents

NETS AND

PIECES OF NETS

Fisheries

Discard or unintentional loss over board during net repair work at sea

E.g. Local fisheries, regional fisheries or distant fisheries

Direct entry - nets get washed or thrown overboard

Winds(drift), currents and tides

Fisheries

Loss of nets and pieces of net during fishing (snagging)

E.g. Local fisheries, regional fisheries or distant fisheries

Direct entry - nets get snagged on wrecks, rocks etc. ripped off pieces of net remain attached to objects underwater or are released into the water column (ghost nets)

Winds (drift), currents and tides

Fisheries and/or harbours

Discard or unintentional loss during net repair work on land or/and runoff from harbours

E.g. local fishing harbours

Direct entry - nets washed, blown or thrown (swept) into harbour basins and washed out to sea

Winds (blow-off), tides and currents

INJECTION GUN CARTRIDGE (Grease)

Shipping including fisheries

Discard or unintentional loss overboard at sea

Local (cartridges recorded on beaches are not fouled, not battered)

Direct entry from ships at sea

Winds (drift), currents and tides

TAHITIANS (Plastic sheeting to protect mussel cultures)

Aquaculture

Unintentional loss or discard after use

Distant – International - Northwest France/Atlantic coast of France

Direct input

Winds, currents and tides

14Sea and land based split of marine litter

Attributing marine litter to different land and sea based sources is a challenge. Litter on the beach is the easiest to count and use for monitoring, but in many cases could be attributed either to land or sea based sources with different degrees of probability. Also, beach litter as discussed above, is an imperfect indicator and it is acknowledged that some items will be disproportionately found on beaches.

For example, a study by Sá et al (2015) finds evidence that significant higher concentrations of waste float near dense shipping routes (operational waste and packaging material), compared to the areas with little shipping traffic, indicating the contribution of the (merchant) shipping sector to waste at sea.

For the fisheries sector, more specific estimates exist in relation to fisheries equipment, including so-called abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG), ranging up to 220,000 tons per year for the EU as a whole (calculations based on Eunomia, 2016). Data from fishing for litter programmes initiated over the past decade suggest that the amount of ALDFG is gradually decreasing, but still a lot of ‘old’ ALDFG is in Europe’s seas. ALDFG is to be passively fished and delivered to port, which is supported by fishing for litter programmes or independently.

Plastics are the most abundant debris found in the marine environment and comprise more than half of marine litter in European Regional Seas. Figures estimated point at 54,000 to 145,000 tonnes of plastic per year entering the marine environment from land-based sources (Eunomia, 2016). Visual surveys and surface trawls indicate a stock of plastics floating near the surface to be in the order of 268,000 tons, to which European seas are accounting at least 30% (Five Gyres Institute, 2014 as reported in Eunomia, 2016). These figures do not take into account plastics that sink or to microplastics that cannot be visually observed, indicating that the overall stock of plastics in the marine environment is significantly larger.

Analyses of the origins of marine litter found in European seas and on shore indicate that a substantial part originates from ships, but various sources use different estimates, caused by different measurement methods.

Table 9: Share of marine litter from sea based sources

Source

Baltic Sea

North East Atlantic

Mediterranean

Black Sea

EU average

Ocean Conservancy (2012) – waste count

20%

12%

Idem, weight corrected (Eunomia, 2016)

32%

Arcadis (2012)

18%

48%

16%

50%

34%

-Of which fishing sector

51%

88%

58%

48%

65%

-Of which other shipping

49%

12%

42%

52%

35%

Eunomia (2016) discusses the limitations of data and methods applied by Ocean Conservancy and Arcadis, and, also referring to other sources (Van Franeker et al., 2010 and Ioakeimidis et al., 2014), assumes a general split of 20-40% of marine litter being derived from sea-based sources.

15Riverine and soil litter

There are clearly close links between marine and riverine litter, with the latter usually ending up in the former. Efforts to reduce marine litter through prevention will generally lead to a reduction of litter found on land (in soil) or in rivers. JRC analysis of litter found in rivers provides evidence of this link, with similarities between the incidence of different types of litter in rivers and found on marine beaches. Analysis of floating macro litter from 52 rivers found 8,599 items with following frequency distribution. 30

Table 10: Types of litter found in rivers

Ranking

Items

% of total items

1

Plastic pieces

38.59%

2

Plastic bottle

9.55%

3

Cover / packaging

8.42%

4

Bag

7.77%

5

Polystyrene pieces

6.35%

6

Other paper

4.01%

7

Paper packaging

3.61%

8

Sheets

2.93%

9

Foam

2.70%

10

Cans

2.05%

11

Other plastic/polystyrene items

1.98%

12

Plastic container

1.81%

13

Other metal

1.48%

14

Newspapers & magazines

1.19%

15

Beams / Dunnage

0.99%

16

Other rubber

0.95%

17

Wood boards

0.72%

18

Synthetic rope

0.71%

19

Other textiles

0.57%

20

Pallets

0.48%

21

Balls

0.47%

22

Fish boxes - polystyrene

0.47%

23

Clothing

0.40%

24

Rubber boots

0.24%

25

Rope / string and nets

0.22%

26

Fish boxes - plastic

0.21%

27

Buoys

0.21%

28

Gloves

0.17%

29

Sails / canvas

0.13%

30

Fishing net

0.13%

31

Barrels

0.12%

32

Balloons

0.10%

33

Carpet & Furnishing

0.10%

34

Wire

0.08%

35

Tyres and belts

0.06%

36

Crates

0.02%

37

Fishing related

0.02%

38

Other litter

0.01%

16Plastics overview

A plastic material is an organic solid, essentially a polymer, i.e. chain of several thousand of repeating molecular units of monomers, or combination of polymers. The monomers of plastic are either natural or synthetic organic compounds. The term resin is sometimes used as synonym of a commercial polymer 31 .

Within Europe, plastics are primarily used in packaging (40%), while the building sector is the second user (20%). Automotive, electrical & electronic and agriculture are the three other sectors with significant plastic use, as explained in the following figure. 32

Figure 12: Distribution of European (EU-28+NO/CH) plastics demand by segment in 2015 33

Plastics are traditionally derived from fossil sources, mainly oil and gas. Plastics can also be made of alternative feedstock such as renewable resources currently mainly derived from different types of agriculture (biomass), organic waste and residues, gaseous effluents (e.g. CO2). And finally, plastics can also be made from secondary materials obtained through the chemical or mechanical recycling of collected plastic waste.

In Europe 57 million tonnes of primary plastics were produced in 2016, the share of bio-based plastics being 0.5 and 1% of EU annual plastic consumption. The European plastics industry is a big part of the chemicals industry and plays a vital role in the EU economy. It employs about 1.45 million people and has a turnover of 350 billion (including plastic converters and technology providers).

Plastic often follows a "take-make-consume-dispose" pattern of lifecycle. It is commonly agreed that this type of model does not correspond to a sustainable growth principles in a sense that it is based on the assumption that resources are abundant, available, easy to source and cheap to dispose of. Strained natural resources and climate change are however becoming an ever more tangible reality. Therefore, a model that is circular has become necessary in order to keep the added value in products for as long as possible and eliminate as much as possible waste generation. The circular economy model acknowledges that resources are limited and should be used in an efficient way.

In 2014, the EU generated about 25 million tonnes of post-consumer plastic waste of which only 30 % was recycled. The performance as regards recycling of plastics wastes, although in progress, shows there is ample room for improvement. For example, the current target for recycling of plastic packaging waste is 22.5%. The average recycling rate of plastic packaging waste being 39.8% in 2015 34 clearly demonstrates that this target is obsolete. A more ambitious target was needed to provide incentives for increasing recycling; hence the recently proposed amendment to the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (55% of plastic packaging waste to be recycled by 2025).

Figure 13: Waste treatment evolution 2006-2014 35

Once plastic wastes are considered as a resource to be kept as long as possible in the value chain the lifecycle should be modified accordingly.

In terms of the management of plastic wastes, it is estimated that around 32% are currently recycled, with this projected to increase to 43% in 2030 as a result of the baseline policies taking effect: the baseline includes the European Commission’s proposed revisions to the Waste Framework Directive and waste stream Directives, which, at the time of writing, have been agreed between the co-legislators.

Figure 14: Overall EU-28 Plastic Waste Flows 36

Littering rates appear small in relative terms, but this still amounts to more than 200 thousand tonnes of plastic entering the environment, including the marine environment, each year by 2030. Once again, the basis for this estimate is such that limited confidence can be attached to the estimate.

17Plastic litter estimates

It is estimated that a total of 139 thousand tonnes of plastic packaging litter are generated in the EU-28 each year, of which 41 thousand tonnes are beverage bottles. The arising of plastic packaging litter in each Member State (normalised by total population) are shown below.

Figure 15: Arising of Plastic Packaging Litter by Member State in 2014, kg per capita

18Waste from fishing gear

Plastic products are common in the fishing and aquaculture sectors. Aquaculture is distinguished from the fishing sector by the fact that fishing involves actively or passively catching wild fish and shellfish species; while in aquaculture, the species are farmed in enclosures or on structures that are tethered. These industries are reliant on plastic material to provide affordable, lightweight and durable equipment. Various types of plastic are utilised for different types of gear and equipment; an overview is given below.

Table 11: Overview of plastic types utilized in fishing and aquaculture gear

Material

Use

Nylon (Polyamide)

Nets (mostly gillnet and seine nets), lobster and crab pots

Polypropylene

Nets (mostly gillnet and trawl net), rope, mesh

Polyethylene

Nets (mostly trawl net, purse seine net); longlines; Aquaculture: rope, cage, floats, tubes, disks

HDPE

Trawl doors, dredges, small parts and cladding

Polystyrene, Polyurethane

Insulation, floats and buoys, including in fish aggregation devices (FADs)

PVC

Aquaculture: cages, tubing and piping

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), Polyvinyl difluoride (PVDF)

Aquaculture: valves

Aramids, Ultra High MW Polyethylene, Aromatic polyester

Rope, net (newer technology)

GFRP (glass fibre reinforced plastic)

Aquaculture (newer technology)

There are few estimates of plastic waste generation in the fishing and aquaculture sector and only partial data on the annual consumption of plastics by the sector. The amount of fishing gear that is abandoned, lost, or discarded at sea is only roughly estimated. An analysis based on the PRODCOM database and reports of what is found at sea is presented in annex 7.

Recycling rates are based on data from NoFir’s EU-wide recycling programme, EUFir. 37 This is the only recycling programme to the Commission’s knowledge that operates in the EU. Countries, which are not currently involved in the scheme, have been given a nominal recycling rate of zero. This yields an EU-wide recycling rate of around 1.5%. Residual treatment destinations were based on information from a Norwegian study 38 , which indicated that little netting ends up in incinerators, as they are not usually equipped with net handling gear or adjusted for such high-calorific feedstock. Therefore the majority of gear has been allocated to landfill (76%), with a smaller proportion (8%) to incineration.

Future waste generation projections were based on historic trends in fishing and aquaculture production. Overall waste growth across the EU-28 is projected to increase by 298 tonnes per year from 2015 onwards, equivalent to 1.6% of total waste arising in 2015. The recycling rate is envisaged to remain relatively static, with little growth over time, in the absence of a more co-ordinated effort to fund and increase recycling in the sector EU-wide. The littering rate is held to be likely to remain constant, if no action is taken; and landfill and incineration rates also to remain relatively unchanged.

Figure 16: Summary of baseline waste flows for fishing gear plastics

19Impacts on the environment, health and economy

Once in the environment - particularly in the marine environment - plastic waste can persist for hundreds of years. The 10 million tonnes of litter, mostly plastic, which ends up in the world's oceans and seas annually, turning them into the world's biggest plastic dump 39 , harm the coastal and marine environment as well as aquatic life.

Marine litter causes enormous harm to ecosystems : impacts include mortality or sub-lethal effects on plants and animals through entanglement 40 (e.g. from ghost nets 41 ) physical damage, smothering, ingestion of plastic by animals such as turtles or birds, including microplastics; these microplastics have the potential to accelerate accumulation of chemicals throughout the food chain, with potential negative impacts on human health. Furthermore, marine litter facilitates the invasion of alien species, altering benthic community structure 42 . Most plastic debris eventually comes to rest on the seabed 43 .

The number of species known to be affected by the marine litter are now almost 800, the proportion of cetacean and seabird species has risen to 40% and 44% respectively, while some surveys show that 100% of turtles are affected by ingestion of litter. A recent technical report from JRC provides insight about the major negative impacts from marine litter by describing the mechanisms of harm 44 .

Microplastics are ubiquitous and reach even the most remote areas 45 with a concentration in water sometimes higher than that of plankton. These micro plastics, and the chemical additives they contain, if ingested in large quantities by marine fauna may have a high potential for contaminating the food chain through predator-prey interaction.

Plastic is not inert. Conventional plastic contains chemical additives which can be endocrine disruptors, carcinogenic or provoke other toxic reactions and can, in principle, migrate into the environment, though in small quantities 46 , 47 . Persistent organic pollutants (POPs), such as pesticides like DDT and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) 48 since 1970s have been progressively banned but, as they are very persistent in the environment and sometimes still present in some materials or products in use, their presence can still be detected. They can attach themselves from the surrounding water to plastic fragments which can be harmful 49 and enter the food chain via marine fauna which ingest the plastics (Trojan horse effect) 50 . These POPs do not break down naturally very easily but accumulate in body tissue, potentially having carcinogenic, mutagenic and other health effects 51 .

Given the high leakage worldwide of plastics in the natural environment with harmful effects for a very long period of time, solutions have been sought to design plastics in a way that they can biodegrade in different environmental compartments. These solutions will however only make sense as a complement to a paramount effort to reduce plastic leakages. Complete biodegradation of plastics, a process involving microbial action, occurs when none of the original polymer remains 52 . Most currently available biodegradable plastics generally degrade under specific conditions, which may not always be easy to find in the natural environment, and can thus still cause harm to ecosystems. Biodegradation in the marine environment is particularly challenging even though recent research projects 53 have shown some progresses made regarding this issue.

Marine litter not only affects economic activities such as tourism and fisheries and entails substantial cleaning costs, fighting against it also creates economic opportunities. Innovation in product design to avoid plastic litter and microplastics, but also investments for marine litter prevention (e.g. in waste and waste-water treatment, in port reception facilities or recycling of fishing nets) can create jobs and strengthen technical and scientific skills and industry competitiveness in areas of growing global interest.

The impacts of plastic marine debris on the environment and human health can also be structured according to the size of the plastic litter 54 :

·Impacts of macroplastics (i.e. pieces of plastics larger than 5mm)

oPlastic ingestion is increasing (identified in 27% of species in 1997 and 44% in 2014), and can cause mortality directly or can affect animals through slower sub-lethal physical and chemical effects reducing the growth rate or the reproductive ability of the affected animals. According to one estimate, “99 per cent of all seabirds will have ingested plastic by mid-century 55 ”. This may also affect fish population thus reducing marine fisheries productivity and profitability. There is an abundance of case studies displaying the magnitude of the issue. Between January and February 2016 more than 30 sperm whales beached along the North Sea coast. From the 22 carcasses investigated, 9 had netting, ropes, foil, packaging material and even a part of a car in their gastrointestinal tracts. In the Mediterranean Sea, a deceased sperm whale was found with 7.6 kg of ingested plastic debris, leading to a rupture of its stomach.

oEntanglement incidents (for example with cords, plastic wrappings, netting) with marine life also appear to be increasing and affect many species; including 100 % of marine turtles (7 of 7 species), 67 % of seals (22 of 33 species), 31 % of whales (25 of 80 species) and 25 % of seabirds (103 of 406). 56 Entanglement causes serious harm: for example, entangled organisms may no longer be able to acquire food and avoid predators, or become so exhausted that they starve or drown. This may pose a serious risk for threatened populations of marine mammals, reptiles and birds with a special protection status.

o"Ghost" fishing: While around one-third of beach litter has the potential to entangle animals, lost or abandoned fishing gear poses a particular risk as it may continue to fish for years or even decades) to various degrees. This depends on such factors as the type of fishing gear, the place where it has been lost and prevailing oceanographic conditions, with the fishing capacity of ghost nets estimated at 6-20% of their initial fishing capacity over their remaining life time. According to Sancho et al. (2003), lost tangle nets in northern Spain catch about 5% of the total commercial catch of monkfish. An analysis of data collected by ghost-gear retrieval initiatives in the USA estimated that annually more than 3.5 million animals were entangled in 5000 removed nets, including 1300 marine mammals, 25 000 birds, 100 000 fish and over 3 million invertebrates.

oDecreased biodiversity: By colonising floating plastic and using it to travel longer distances than otherwise possible, the extension of the range of certain species or the introduction of new ones can occur. This may cause significant changes in population structure. One study predicted that global marine species diversity might decrease by as much as 58% if worldwide biotic mixing occurs. 57 The increase of human structures and litter in the ocean may be contributing to the increase in jellyfish blooms 58

oSea floor pollution: debris can smother the sea floor and reduce coral cover or decrease the oxygen content in the benthos that could alter the composition of life on the sea floor. 59 This is particularly the case when large quantities of plastic material are illegally thrown overboard rather than brought back to port. A recent study 60 found that the likelihood of disease increases from 4% to 89% when corals are in contact with plastic. This study also estimates that 11.1 billion plastic items are entangled on coral reefs across the Asia-Pacific and projects this number to increase 40% by 2025.

·Impacts of microplastics (i.e. pieces of plastics smaller than 5mm)

oIngestion or absorption: The small size of microplastics enables them to interact with a particularly wide range of marine organisms where they can affect the marine food chain via ingestion or absorption. Recent samples taken in the context of deep-sea research found that in the bottom of the Mariana Trench, every single invertebrate collected had ingested at least one piece of microplastics. A recent study 61 confirmed the evidence for a potential risk to environmental organisms from the toxic and physical effects to be exhibited on exposure to microplastics. The study concluded that a potential risk to the environment may arise from the presence of microplastic particles used in the production of various products for consumer and professional use that get into the aquatic environment, and that these risks need to be addressed on a EU-wide basis.

oImpact nanoparticles: The impacts of microplastics are also likely to hold true for particles of nanosize, especially regarding migration to animal or human body tissue, but more data is needed.

·Impacts of toxic substances associated with plastic debris 

oChemical toxicity: Plastics contain a variety of potentially toxic chemicals incorporated during manufacture, which could be released to the environment. 62 Research has identified that many of these chemicals can have toxicological effects on fish, mammals and molluscs, hence a risk could exist if plastic fragments containing these chemical are ingested by marine organisms. 63 Microplastics ingested by marine animals can contain chemicals that can pass through to human body tissue if ingested, for example, plastic found in the fish's guts (processed to make fish food) or in the fatty tissues of wild caught or farmed fish. There is though no clear conclusion as to whether the chemicals pose additional harm over and above those already ingested through water and the like.

oPersistent organic pollutants: Furthermore, plastic debris can absorb persistent organic pollutants (POPs) like PCBs, DDE, and nonylphenols (NP) that are present in the oceans from other sources.

Overall, a global assessment of the number of marine species affected by marine litter (CBD, 2016) found that 154 more species were affected since the previous review in 2012 (CBD, 2012). The total in 2016 of impacted species was 817, a 23 per cent increase. Restricting the assessment to ingestion and entanglement records for marine and coastal species revealed that a further 136 species are known to be affected, bringing the total number of affected species to 519. The main bulk of new species records were for the ingestion of plastics, including microplastics, and entanglement in lost or abandoned fishing gear (predominantly line, nets or pots). Many of the affected species are protected. For example of the 120 marine mammals species listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (IUCN, 2014), 54 (45 %) were reported to have interacted (ingestion and/or entanglement) with marine litter. About 15% of the marine mammal species affected through entanglement and ingestion are on the IUCN Red List. Cross-referencing only the 154 new records of affected species with the IUCN Red List indicated that approximately 10 per cent are threatened, vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered, including large baleen whales and geographically restricted sea bird species. In addition, a further nine species of affected cetacean were identified as either not assessed by the Red List to date or were data deficient, including five species of toothed whales. It is highly likely that there are substantially more marine species affected by marine litter, either directly or indirectly, given the ubiquitous presence of litter items, such as persistent microplastics in the marine environment (CBD, 2016).

20Economic impacts from environmental externalities

The economic activities directly affected by marine plastic litter and microplastics include shipping, fishing, aquaculture, tourism and recreation. The cost associated could be estimated to be at least $8bn per year (UNEP, 2016). For the EU, costs to the tourism and recreation sector (extrapolated from beach cleaning costs) have been estimated up to €30 million per year; costs to the fishing industry up to €57 million. The "best estimate" within this range is a total of almost €470 million. Economic damage from litter on marine industry users was estimated to be $1.26bn per annum to marine industries in the Asia Pacific region. UN Environment estimates the damage to marine environments globally to be at least $8bn per annum.

Sources for economic impacts

Firstly, the costs to the fishing industry up to €57 million are taken from UNEP (2016), Marine plastic debris and microplastics – Global lessons and research to inspire action and guide policy change, United Nations Environment Program, Nairobi, and based on Mouat et al. 2010 in Arcadis 2014:

Table 12: Fishing and aquaculture gear material flow, 2015

Type of cost

Cost per vessel (€)

Estimated cost for the EU (M€)

Calculation method

Reduced catch revenues (contamination forces fishermen to use more time for the selection of their catches and to discard part of them)

2,340

28.64

The cost estimated by Mouat et al. (2010) for Scottish vessels (€2,200 per vessel per year), actualised in 2013 prices, was multiplied by the number of EU trawlers (EU vessels that use seafloor fishing gear), i.e. 12,238

Removing litter from fishing gear

959

11.74

The time needed to remove litter from fishing gear, as estimated by Mouat et al (2010) for Scottish vessels (41 hours per vessel per year), was multiplied by the average EU27 labour cost (€23.4 per hour) and then by the number of EU trawlers (EU vessels that use seafloor fishing gear), i.e. 12,238.

Broken gear, fouled propellers

191

16.79

The cost related to broken fear and fouled propellers, as estimated by Mouat et al. (2010) for Scottish vessels (€180 per vessel per year), actualised in 2013 prices was multiplied by the total number of fishing vessels in the EU (87,667 according to Eurostat).

Costs to the tourism and recreation sector are taken from Arcadis, 2014, “Marine Litter study to support the establishment of an initial quantitative headline reduction target”. The total quantified cost of degradation is estimated to be 259 M€ to 694.7 M€. These however represent a small portion of actual costs as it has not been possible to quantify impacts to all economic sectors. The monetised costs are attributed to tourism and recreation (up to 630 M€) and fisheries (up to 62 M€) as the ‘main affected sectors’. It has not been possible to monetise the costs of all the affected groups and sectors, such as shipping and voluntary beach cleaning, or cleaning of harbours and marinas.

In turn, this study used the JRC Report “Harm caused by Marine Litter” 2016, which reported on the basis of a comparatively small sample size, wide fluctuation in the clean-up costs between bathing and non-bathing beaches, as well as between countries. The JRC report then quoted an estimate of the costs of marine litter clean-up at the European level for the more than 50,000 kilometres of EU coastline of between approximately 194 and 630 M€, assuming that all beaches would be cleaned.

21Reducing marine litter 

A detailed analysis of marine litter was included in SWD (2018) 16 accompanying the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on “A European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy”, COM(2018) 28. This SWD covered many of the issues above from a plastics perspective, and also measures to curb plastic waste and littering. The following chapter summarises this analysis.

22Single-use plastics: issues, definition and insights from existing measures

23Issues at stake

In a recent UNEP report, States are encouraged to "develop and implement laws to ban or diminish the production of single-use trash items and other waste that is commonly found in marine litter" 64 .

Whether an item is a single-use item or reusable, once it is littered in the environment, it has the same negative environmental impact. Plastic degradation in open environment can take hundreds of years. During this period plastics fragment into smaller pieces. Plastic debris causes sea species to suffer from entanglement or ingestion. Microplastics causing harm to fauna and flora are generated and are potentially harmful for human health. This represents both a common and a transboundary challenge.

A single-use plastic item reaches its end-of-life in a very short time, which shows that resources are not efficiently used. Indeed, if this item were designed for reuse and effectively reused, this would save the resources and energy that were used in their production.

Moreover, such items once disposed of, becomes waste that needs to be collected and sorted thereby implying costs for public authorities. Although such items could be recycled, most of the time they are not. Causes are multiple and often interlinked: insufficient public waste management infrastructure, food and organic material contamination once put in the right bin, etc. Therefore, this leads to consider that not only resources are wasted in their production phase but the value of materials is not kept in the loop which is the contrary of a circular economy concept and can also be seen as contrary to the waste hierarchy enshrined in the Waste Framework Directive which states that policy should also aim at reducing the use of resources, and favour the practical application of the waste hierarchy in accordance to which prevention should be considered in priority to other waste management options such as recycling for instance.

Several Member States are already taking action regarding single-use items by implementing the Marine Strategy Framework Directive 65 . France for example plans to restrict the use of several of these SUP by 2020, unless they are home-compostable and at least 50% bio-based (pushing thus for a substitution by paper, cardboard, wood and others) 66 . United Kingdom and Ireland area also considering actions. Regional and more local actions have been taken, such as:

·In Navarra the sale of single-use plastic cutlery, trays and cups is to be banned by 2020, the provision of tap water in public spaces and in restaurants will be made obligatory, and the sale of bottled water prohibited in all public buildings except hospitals.

·In Bristol, consumers can refill their reusable water bottles for free in many cafes, restaurants and others. An app locates the closest refill station. The project is expanded to five other cities.

·In Vienna and Munich, portable washing stations provide a specific service to wash reusable containers in food markets.

·Vienna introduced an obligation to use reusable items at big events.

·Hamburg bans disposable packaging in public buildings, which includes bottled water and beer, plastic plates and cutlery.

24Definition of single-use plastics 

Currently a legal definition nor official statistics exist for single-use plastic production.

Given that plastic packaging is almost exclusively single-use, especially in business-to-consumer applications, such items could be defined in the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD). In the latter, a distinction is made between packaging, i.e. all products made of any material of any nature to be used for the containment, protection, handling, delivery and presentation of goods, from raw materials to processed goods, from the producer to the user or the consumer, and "non-returnable items" used for the same purposes. One could consider therefore that "non-returnable items" are equivalent to single-use items.

Acknowledging that single-use items are currently not defined from a legal perspective, the Commission worked with stakeholders establishing criteria for what should be targeted as relevant single-use items:

·Prone to littering and prevalently ending in the marine environment;

·Short use phase;

·Consumed predominantly away from home;

·Reusable or non-plastic alternatives exist.

25Insights from the Plastic Bags Directive

Plastic bags is a specific case of Single-Use Plastics. The EU has already taken steps by setting requirements for Member States to adopt measures to cut the consumption of plastic bags.

In 2010, an estimated 98.6 billion plastic carrier bags were placed on the EU market, which amounts to every EU citizen using 198 plastic carrier bags per year. Out of these almost 100 billion bags, the vast majority are lightweight bags, which are less frequently re-used than thicker ones. Consumption figures vary greatly between Member States, with annual use per capita of lightweight plastic carrier bags ranging between an estimated 4 bags in some Member States and 466 bags in other Member States.

Lightweight plastic carrier bags are considered to be packaging within the meaning of Directive 94/62/EC 67 on packaging and packaging waste (PPWD). Member States may take a wide range of actions, which shall include at least one of the following measures:

·a national maximum consumption level of plastic carrier bags of maximum 90 bags per person per year by 31 December 2019 and maximum 40 bags per person per year by 31 December 2025;

·instruments ensuring that, by 31 December 2018, lightweight plastic carrier bags are not provided free of charge to customers at a point of sale.

Very lightweight plastic carrier bags (i.e. with wall thickness below 15 microns) are mainly used for the packaging of loose fruits and vegetables may be excluded from the above 2 measures.

It is not yet possible to provide EU-wide statistical data on reduction of consumption of these bags. By mid-October 2017, six Member States had not notified implementing measures, but informed that measures would be adopted still in 2017. Nevertheless, some Member States currently apply measures ahead of the deadlines and these Member States find considerable reduction in the consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags.

The implementing measures to reduce use of plastic bags have met little resistance from consumers, and are rather welcome and seen as an effective measure. They are also very efficient in reducing littering in coasts and seas. The tax on plastic shopping bags in Ireland, in 2002, resulted not only in a 90% reduction of plastic bags provided in retail outlets (Convey et al., 2007) but also in a marked decline in bags found on beaches, according to Coastwatch beach monitoring data 68 .

26Plastic waste from sea-based sources: sources and existing EU measures 

Plastic products are common in the fishing, aquaculture, shipping (cruise ships, merchant vessels, fishing and recreational craft) and other offshore activities  69 . These industries have become reliant on plastic material to provide affordable, lightweight and durable equipment. Very few estimates of plastic waste generation in the fishing and aquaculture sector exist though.

Whilst on average the overall quantities of plastic waste discarded at sea are small compared to waste not dealt with properly on land, the impact is significant because the pathway to the sea is direct, and in some sea regions, such as the North East Atlantic and the North Sea, is significant. Of these sources, the loss of fishing gear is easiest to identify and quantify because it is instantly recognisable. Video inspection of seafloors 70 and surveys of northern beaches 71  indicate that fishing gear makes up a high proportion of distinguishable objects. This plastic creates the same problems as that from land based-sources as it breaks down into smaller pieces but causes an additional and well-documented harm to marine life through entanglement in nets.

Several causes of discharging litter at sea were identified during stakeholder interviews 72 as well as collating information on reviews on the causes of abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear:

·Accidental and sometimes irretrievable loss of material, limited life-span of some items and nature of fishing method;

·Mismanagement of waste, including plastic waste e.g. dumping on land or sea, due to high cost of waste handling, inadequate facilities and/or handling on board or lack of adequate reception facilities in ports for waste storage and consignment, lack of operators willing to handle gear or waste;

·Lack of incentives to handle waste from ships, including recycling, reuse, retrieval of lost gear or consign end-of-life gear;

·Lack of end markets for re-use and recycling outputs and lack of operators willing to handle gear.

27Shipping and other offshore installations

The shipping sector includes all seagoing vessels, from large cruise ships to small fishing vessels and pleasure craft. There are no indications from recent studies and assessments that the amount of garbage from ships (marine litter) has decreased in recent years. On the contrary, time series of marine litter on European shores indicate that the problem has persisted since the implementation of the PRF Directive (Directive 2000/59/EC). Although garbage delivered in ports has increased since the introduction of the Directive, a significant delivery gap remains, estimated between 60,000 and 300,000 tonnes, i.e. 7% to 34% of the total garbage waste to be delivered annually 73 .

A revision of the PRF Directive was recently adopted, and will reduce further this source of marine litter.

28Abandoned, lost and otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG)

Commercial fishing gear lost, abandoned or discarded annually at sea or in the world’s oceans may continue to fish for years or even decades, a process referred to as “ghost fishing”. In an EU context, the extent and consequences have been subject to a number of EU funded studies 74 , 75 , 76 . In general terms, it appears likely that substantial lengths of netting are lost each year. Each nation's fleet may be losing several hundred kilometres. Most nets are lost as a result of events like storms or being towed away by trawlers. Indications are that a majority of nets lost in such circumstances are either disabled or have a low residual catch efficiency. The FAO report concludes "that ghost fishing from ‘active’ fishing gears such as trawl nets and from ‘static’ pot fishing is not significant in European Union (EU) waters". According to scientific research the remaining fishing capacity of ghost nets varies from 6-20% of their initial fishing capacity 77 .

In relation to the total number of nets used in EU waters, the rates of permanent net loss appear to be below one per cent of nets deployed. Most nets are deployed in shallow waters, and a significant proportion of lost nets are recovered through the use of global positioning systems (GPS); fishers typically go to considerable lengths to recover nets given their cost. During the evaluation of the Control Regulation, only one Member State authority reported that it routinely collect notifications of lost gear 78 .

A number of Member States undertake retrieval surveys based on reported losses and other evidence. Many Producer Organisations report the position of static gears on a daily basis to minimise conflict between static and mobile fishing gears. Such initiatives can reduce the levels of gear loss and can benefit from the support of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). In response to the studies on ghost fishing, the EU Control Regulation 79 and the associated implementing regulation 80 introduced mandatory requirements to report lost nets, and improvements and specifications for the marking of fishing gear in order to mitigate such losses.

29Aquaculture

Aquaculture contributes to marine litter also, though to a minor extent, with the main sources associated with sea-based farms, such as cages, longlines, poles and other floating and fixed structures used for the culture of marine animals and plants. There are no reliable estimates of the contribution of aquaculture to marine litter to date.

The types of material lost would depend on the type of culture systems, construction quality, vulnerability to damage, and management practices and could be nets and cage structures (for marine fish cages), lines or floating raft structures (for seaweed systems) or poles, bags, lines, and plastic sheeting (for mollusc farming). Because many of these items are expensive, one might expect farmers to take considerable care to avoid losses.

A Canadian study 81 showed that greater concentrations of micro plastics were measured in farmed mussels than in wild mussels, which may be a result of farming practices that use polypropylene lines to anchor the mussels, or it may be due to differences in micro plastic concentrations in the different locations from which the farmed mussels and wild mussels originated.

Another study 82 found that mussel nets are among the most common items found in areas of the Adriatic and Ionian seas with intensive and extensive aquaculture activities. Shellfish farming techniques and any potential litter generated differ according to local conditions in the sea basin.

However, given that global aquaculture production accounts for more than 50% and marine aquaculture of fish and molluscs for nearly 15% of global seafood production, the contribution of the sector to marine litter may be rising in importance 83 .

30End-of-life recreational boats

End-of-life recreational boats could become a significant source for marine litter. Yachts' average lifespan has been estimated at 30 years, although in some instances this may stretch to 40-45 years. This lifespan has further increased over time due to the use of stronger materials, such as fibre reinforced polymer (FRP). It is thought that between 1% and 2% of the 6 million boats kept in Europe, in other words at least 80,000 boats, reach their 'end of use' each year. However, only around 2,000 of those are dismantled. A significant number of the remaining boats are left abandoned, potentially ending up in the ocean and becoming marine litter 84 .

31Tourism

While tourism is a major source of littering on beaches, the proportion of this litter finding its way into the sea is unknown.

32Existing EU measures for sea-based sources of marine litter

The Commission has been tackling sea-based sources of marine litter with a variety of policy instruments.

Directive 2000/59/EC on port reception facilities for ship generated waste and cargo residues aims at reducing discharges of waste from ships at sea. It requires the provision of adequate waste reception facilities in ports, and ensures the use of those facilities through a mandatory delivery requirement for ships before departure from any EU port. The Directive also requires the establishment of cost recovery systems which are based on the application on an indirect fee, to be paid irrespective of delivery, in order to provide no incentive for ships to discharge their waste into the sea. Since the adoption of the PRF Directive, volumes of ship-generated waste and cargo residues delivered to EU ports have increased significantly 85 . However, waste continues to be discharged at sea. Other waste streams, such as oily waste and sewage, also continue to be discharged at sea in contravention with existing discharge norms/prohibitions 86 . Important underlying drivers of these problems were found to be: the unavailability of adequate reception facilities in ports, the lack of enforcement of the mandatory delivery obligation for ships, and the lack of economic incentives for delivery 87 .

Of particular relevance to the fishing and aquaculture sectors are instruments preventing or prohibiting the voluntary discarding of plastic waste, in particular derelict gear, on the one hand, and instruments mitigating or promoting the recovery of lost gear which may generate ghost fishing. While the former can be addressed through environmental protection measures, the latter has led the Commission to undertaking studies on estimating the magnitude and impact of ghost fishing 88 and on the recovery of ALDFG 89 .

The Control Regulation 90 requires the mandatory marking of gear as well as the notification and retrieval of lost gear. A more detailed assessment of the implementation of the requirements of the Control Regulation will provide important information on its impacts and potential improvements.

The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) allows for finances a variety of activities combating litter from sea-based activities and especially so-called passive fishing for litter, whereby fishers bring litter fished up in nets while fishing back ashore. Other potential activities are retrieving lost gear, the provision of litter bags for collection at sea, investments in facilities for waste and marine litter collection and processing, recovery and recycling of nets.

Over the seven year period 2014-2020, 14 Member States envisage a total of 108 fishing for litter operations that are supported with around €22M from EU funds, equalling 2% of the EMFF. While the allocation is still rather modest, the increase in comparison to the previous funding period is significant with the planned EU financial contribution having more than tripled and the number of Member States funding marine litter activities with the EMFF as well as the number of projects having at least doubled. . A recent call for proposals will be complementing these activities with a number of transnational projects on the reduction, monitoring, removal and recycling of marine litter being supported 2019-2020 focussing on long term sustainability and buy in from stakeholders.

33Microplastics

Microplastics are plastic particles of a size below 5 mm. Some of these microplastics are produced to be intentionally added to products (e.g. scrubbing agents in cosmetics, detergents, paints) or to serve as input for further processing (e.g. plastic resin pellets). Others originate from the abrasion of large plastic objects during manufacturing or use (e.g. tyre dust, textile fibres), or after these objects have leaked into the environment.

The potential impacts of microplastics on the environment, associated with their intentional or incidental use in products, have generated a lot of concerns worldwide. The Council has invited the Commission to take measures on microplastics, in particular from cosmetics and detergents under the Strategy on Plastics.

During the preparation of the EU Strategy on Plastics an Open Public Consultation on microplastics was organised with almost 500 responses (roughly 50% from individuals vs companies). Citizens are most concerned about harm to marine life, there’s high awareness of cosmetics and textiles microplastics, and with the highest concern for textiles, legislative measures are generally favoured at the European level with the cost burden put on the manufacturers and bans are favoured for all of the intentionally added ingredients.

A recent study 91 estimated that the total number of floating macro- and microplastics in the open oceans is 5,25 trillion pieces, weighing 269,000 tonnes. Microplastics were calculated in the order of 200 thousand tonnes in the EU 92 .

Table 13: Annual microplastics emissions to surface waters from the EU (+Norway and Switzerland) 93

 Source

Upper (tonnes)

Midpoint

Lower (tonnes)

Source Data Year

Automotive Tyres

136,000

94,000

52,000

2012

Pellets

91,000

47,000

3,000

2015

Washing of Clothing

23,000

13,000

4,000

2016

Road Markings

21,000

15,000

10,000

2015

Building Paint

8,000

5,000

2,000

2013

Fishing Gear

9,000

5,000

1,000

2015

Automotive Brakes

5,000

2,000

100

2012

Artificial Turf

3,000

2,000

300

2012

Marine Paint

400

400

400

2013

Leave on PCP

526

-

86

-

Fertilisers

400

-

85

-

Rinse off PCP

373

-

114

-

Building Paint

141

-

0.40

-

Detergents

94

-

30

-

Total

300,000

 

72,500

Note: Data for the calculation of emissions comes from different years for each emission source. The results are normalised to 2017 for the baseline calculations using the midpoint.

Figures are rounded therefore totals may not add up

Some companies have already taken measures to phase out progressively the use of certain microbeads in some of their products.

34Existing measures: EPR and Deposit Return Systems 

35EPR fee modulation and more transparency 

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is defined as “an environmental policy approach in which a producer’s responsibility for a product is extended to the post-consumer stage of a product’s life cycle” 94 . There are a variety of EPR policy measures and instruments that aim to shift the negative environmental externalities of products from taxpayers to producers and to incentivise producers to take environmental considerations into account at the product design phase.

Such measures can also take the form of EPR schemes whereby producers are made responsible for the financing and organisation of the waste management of their end-of-life products. The objectives of such EPR schemes are to

·relieve public authorities (partially) of the cost of managing a specific waste stream, transferring the financial burden from taxpayers to consumers;

·internalise the cost of end-of-life management of a product in the price of new products, thus providing an incentive for ecodesign approach; and

·ensure effective and environmentally sound collection and treatment of that waste stream.

By internalising costs and establishing a well-designed fee system, EPR can encourage a change in behaviour of relevant actors involved in the product value chain from plastic manufacturers to consumers and recyclers. Design for reuse and for recycling and more sustainable products are awarded.

It is to be noted that the existing EPR schemes, including for packaging, already provide for some fee modulation based on simple criteria such as type, material or weight of packaging.

36Deposit return schemes (DRS)

DRS are based on additional fees on some products, which have to be paid by the consumer at the sales point of a given item in the form of a deposit. The deposit fee is returned to the consumer when bringing back the item. Most deposit schemes have been set up for packaging waste, especially for drinking bottles, but also for transport packaging (boxes and pallets). They are usually established at national level, although there are some deposit systems with a regional or local scope. In the case of packaging, the fee is usually determined by the packaging material and the container size and is indicated via a label on the packaging.

Deposit schemes provide an economic incentive to waste holders to bring their waste back to return points. This ensures usually high return rates (above 95% or more in Germany and the Netherlands) and are thus an effective means to combat littering. In addition, the items that are returned are clean sorted fractions with very little contamination, and are therefore perfectly suitable for their reuse or recycling. The best documented case is the introduction of DRS for beverage containers, where the littering reduction potential usually exceeds 80% and the recycling levels for the beverage containers covered by the scheme attain 90-98% 95 .

Table 14: Total return rate of deposit schemes in the EU 96  

Country

Data year

Total return rate

Croatia

2015

up to 90%

Denmark

2014

89%

Estonia

2014

78,6%

Finland

2014

92,6%

Germany

2014

97%

Lithuania

2016

74%

Netherlands

2014

95%

Sweden

2014

88,25%

DRS can be applied to a number of waste streams. They usually are effective in achieving a massive reduction of littering and in increasing recycling to very high levels. In addition, DRS provide an excellent basis for reuse of these materials (as is the case e.g. for refillable bottles in Germany), which generally constitutes a better option from an environmental point of view than recycling, as in line with the waste hierarchy.

DRS schemes can be part of EPR schemes or complement them. DRS can increase the quantity and quality of plastic waste collected and reduce litter. Therefore, the Commission recommends Member States to introduce DRS for waste types that have either a high polluting potential (e.g. fishing gear and agricultural plastics) or are managed in a sub-optimal way (low separate collection rates), which does not allow exploiting the recycling potential of that waste (e.g. plastic packaging in some Member States).  

The level and the structure of the costs will depend on a number of social and geographical factors. DRS are mostly financed by unclaimed deposits (i.e. bottles that consumers do not return) and result in net savings for municipalities. Several studies 97 reported significant net cost savings from the municipalities that implemented DRS resulting from the reduced or avoided costs of collection, treatment, and disposal by the municipal waste management systems. However, DRS may result in additional costs to producers 98 as the level of the fees usually exceeds the level of the fees in the previously existing EPR scheme.

37The Commission proposal to introduce minimum requirements and providing a possibility for fee modulation for EPR schemes

Mandatory EPR schemes are established in EU legislation for end-of life vehicles (Directive 2000/53/EC), for waste electrical and electronic equipment (Directive 2012/19/EU) and batteries and waste batteries (Directive 2006/66/EC). Most Member States have established EPR schemes for packaging in support of the implementation of the packaging and packaging waste Directive (Directive 94/62/EC), even if this is not required by the Directive. In the EU, Member States have set up more than 200 schemes covering these and other products, such as expired medicines, lubricants, pharmaceuticals, tyres, chemicals, agricultural foil etc.

The Waste Framework Directive (Art. 8) lays down some general principles for the implementation of EPR. This directive is currently under review with the objective to introduce minimum requirements for EPR schemes to improve their governance, transparency, cost-efficiency and a level playing among the different schemes across the EU.

One of the minimum requirements proposed by the Commission is to introduce an obligation on the Member States to ensure that the fees paid by the producers fulfilling their EPR obligation are modulated based on the product’s environmental impact. Such 'modulated fees' hence take into account the actual end-of-life costs of individual products or groups of products, in particular, by taking into account their recyclability and re-usability. These minimum requirements on fee modulation would also apply to WEEE, ELV and batteries where EPR is obligatory under EU legislation, and some MS have already applied it even if not required specifically (e.g. France on electronics, packaging and printed paper). Also, existing EPR schemes, including for packaging, already provide for some fee modulation based on simple criteria such as type, material or weight of packaging.

Targeted and meaningful fee differentiation allows rewarding or penalizing the producers regarding design-related factors that have an impact on the end-of-life performance (reusability, dismantlability, recyclability…). For products containing plastic or made of plastic, fees have therefore a potential to be an effective instrument in promoting better product design, labelling, improved collection and treatment of waste in line with the waste hierarchy and more resource efficient use of plastic. Differentiated product fees with a notable economic impact have been identified as being capable of bringing a real change in practices and product design although it is too early to establish a generalised appreciation of such an impact. There are some limitations to the scope of this principle. Fee modulation may not be feasible or possible for all materials or design practices for numerous reasons such as the availability of waste management infrastructure and the technical feasibility of an alternative design fit for purpose or substitution of certain materials.

It is to be noted that the existing EPR schemes, including for packaging, already provide for some fee modulation based on simple criteria such as type, material or weight of packaging.

By internalising costs and establishing a well-designed fee system, EPR can encourage a change in behaviour of relevant actors involved in the product value chain from plastic manufacturers to consumers and recyclers. Design for reuse and for recycling and more sustainable products are awarded.

A variety of practices on fee modulation are already available in the EU and the Commission can assist Member States by facilitating the exchange of best practices and by developing guidelines. For instance, feedback from 'eco-modulation of fees' as applied in France in the implementation of EPR under the WEEE Directive 99 has also pointed to factors of success. Amongst these factors the setting of eco-modulated criteria in a process that involves public authorities, producers as well as non-governmental consumer and environment organisations. The necessity for the approach and criteria to apply it at the EU level to become fully effective was also identified as a key element. Moreover, in the case of electronics, modulated fees also have the potential to support design changes for products for a global market.

In addition, In its proposed waste review, the Commission has emphasised the use of economic instruments to prioritise waste prevention and recycling at national level. For instance, high or gradually rising fees or taxes on landfilling and incineration could improve the economics of plastic recycling by clearly internalising the environmental costs of alternatives.

38Examples of good practice

39Examples of good practice related to SUP

General Commitments From Public Authorities Against Single-Use Plastics

United Kingdom: Commitment to eliminate avoidable plastic waste within 25 years. The UK is considering the implementation of a tax on single-use plastics.

Medway Council, on a local level, is planning to phase out plastic bottles, cutlery, cup, drinking straw in all Council buildings at Council events by June 2018.

Scotland: adopted a national litter strategy and a marine litter strategy in 2014 (communications toolkit, marketing campaign and adapted legislation to increase the fixed penalties for litter- £80 for anyone who drops litter.) Scottish Landfill Tax was introduced in April 2015. 70% set recycling rates target by 2025. Grants will be given to private companies to set up plastics recycling centres. Plans to ban single-use plastics by 2030;

The Netherlands: Dutch marine litter policy :

- Cooperation with stakeholders

- reduce solid waste by regulating products and improving waste management

- undertake cleanup projects;

- increase communication and awareness

- Targets for 2020 to reduce visible litter on the beach, and decrease the amount of litter found in marine organisms.

Spain    Officials in Majorca, Menorca and Ibiza plan to end the sale of all single-use consumer plastics by 2020. Coffee capsules, disposable tableware, plastic cups and ear sticks, non-rechargeable lighters, disposable razors and non-reusable printer toners.

Wet wipes will not be banned as it would be problematic in terms of competition/markets legislation.

Costa Rica: Announced in 2017 a ban on single-use plastics by 2021

Haiti:  bans the production, import, commercialization, and use in any form of plastic bags and objects made of styrofoam for food purposes, such as trays, bottles, bags, cups, and plates.

City Of Vancouver: developing since 2016 a Single-Use Item Reduction Strategy to explore how they can reduce waste from:

- Disposable hot and cold drink cups

- Plastic and paper shopping bags

- Polystyrene foam and other take-out containers 

Currently launching a second consultation with all stakeholders groups.

Cigarette butts

RAISING AWARENESS

Clean Up Australia (NGO): Education on cigarette butts littering and clean-up campaigns

British American Tobacco Australia (Tobacco industry): has established an independent Butt Littering Trust (BATA 2002) with funds of up to $1 million in the first two years for actions to reduce the impact of cigarette butt litter. → Publishes reports, distributes information materials to Australian Council on butt littering issues, and undertakes awareness projects about butt littering (but biased position on danger to smoke).

MITIGATION FEE

San Francisco: implemented a cigarette litter abatement fee in 2011 by increasing the per pack price of all cigarettes by $0.20. By increasing the price of cigarettes, it discourages smoking and corresponding litter, and the proceeds from the abatement fee are used to finance street cleaning and environmental remediation directly related to cigarette waste.

DEPOSIT RETURN SYSTEM

New York: in 2015, developed a cigarette butts recycling program : A. Establishing a State wide System and redemption facilities for the collection of used cigarette butts via automated or non-automated recycling equipment. B. Establishing a deposit and refund value for individual cigarette butts returned to collection facilities of not less than 1 cent per cigarette returned. Fiscal plan created to allocate funds to education campaigns about the harm cigarette butts cause to the environment and labelling projects for cigarette packs.

EPR SCHEME

Australia: a public consultation has been conducted regarding cigarette butts and a variety of public and private stakeholder have pledged for the efficiency of an EPR scheme for cigarette butts.

SMOKE FREE AREAS

Canada: banned smoking on its freshwater beaches in 2013.

R&D

Terracycle: any customer can buy a special cardboard box and then ship it back to TerraCycle for recycling. The collected waste will be shredded and separated. The plastic (such as the cigarette filters) will undergo pelletization and extrusion to be molded into various recycled plastic products. The paper will be recycled and the tobacco and other organics will be composted.

Receptacles are also proposed for distributing standardizing cigarette recycling in small or large-scale outdoor environments like in Davos since 2017 or in Vancouver , for instance.

Greenbutts: Start-up launching in 2018 “ greenbutts ”, that are a biodegradable cigarette filter made from natural materials using no chemicals or artificial binders.

Green Bins: eco-friendly bins for cigarette butts with an integrated process for biodegradation and detoxification.

Plastic bottles, caps and lids

PUBLIC POLICIES

UK Green Public Procurement: Plan to ban plastic bottles + plastic straws from Royal Estates.

Copenhagen: The city has put up more than 60 drinking fountains all over Copenhagen, where citizens and guests can enjoy tap water for free. Map created, showing the drinking fountains available all year and the ones only available in summer.

London: Twenty new drinking fountains will be installed across London within a Plastic Free City initiative pilot scheme starting this summer. Collaboration with civil society: #OneLess campaign , led by the Zoological Society of London, who is supplying the fountains and will analyze whether the initiatives reduce the levels of plastic ending up in the environment.

Balearic Islands: Government officials are considering forcing bars and restaurants to offer free tap water to customers in a bid to reduce the amount of plastic bottles discarded on the islands.

California: California Assembly Bill 319 - From January 1, 2020, a retailer shall not sell or offer for sale, in the state, a single-use beverage container with a cap, unless the container meets one of the following conditions: (a) The cap is tethered to the container in a manner that prevents the separation of the cap from the container when the cap is removed from the container. (b) The cap includes an opening from which the beverage can be consumed while the cap is screwed onto or otherwise contiguously affixed to the container.

Melbourne: 60 water fountains now installed across the city through a joint initiative between VicHealth and the City of Melbourne. The City of Melbourne website features a map of the drinking fountains .

Barbados (Antilles): Barbados’s beverage law provides that: “no distributor or dealer shall sell or offer for sale, at wholesale or retail in Barbados, any beverage that is contained in a beverage container without government permission.” Distributors and dealers who have “an adequate system for the recycling of beverage container” may be exempted. The law imposes a fine of up to $500 and three months imprisonment for violations.

DEPOSIT RETURN SCHEME

Table 15. Countries in the EU with Deposit Return Schemes (source RELOOP0

Scotland: The Scottish Government is already planning to introduce a deposit return scheme which would see customers pay a surcharge on plastic bottles which will be refunded when they return them to a shop. Zero Waste Scotland is commissioned to design the system. A public consultation is to be expected in spring 2018.

ECONOMIC INCENTIVES

Ganamos Reciclando (Recycling we all win):