Closed – Consultation on the establishment of a quantitative reduction headline target for marine litter

The European Commission’s DG Environment has launched a consultation on setting an EU-wide quantitative reduction headline target for marine litter. The consultation runs from 25th September to 18th December 2013.

Marine litter was one of the items discussed at the Rio+20 UN Sustainable Development Conference, with delegations committing to take further action to achieve reductions by 2025. In Europe this commitment is being taken forward through the 7th Environment Action Programme, which calls for the establishment of a ‘Union-wide quantitative reduction headline target for marine litter, supported by source-based measures and taking into account the marine strategies established by Member States’.

Marine litter, particularly plastic waste, causes huge problems in the marine environment and on the coastline around the world. It has many negative impacts, from the economic cost of beach cleansing (estimated to be around £18m for the UK each year) and impacts on coastal tourism, damage to wildlife and habitats ecosystems, damage to fisheries and fishing gear, and possible impacts on human health through the degradation of plastics and subsequent release of toxins into the food chain. The issues of marine litter are covered under a wide range of policy and legislation at EU level including the Bathing Water Directive and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive; the MSFD identifies marine litter as one of the 11 ‘descriptors’ to be addressed in order to achieve the required ‘Good Environmental Status’ by 2020.

The consultation aims to understand stakeholders’ views on a range of actions and policies which could be undertaken in order to tackle the problem of marine litter. The Commission is seeking views from all European citizens and organisations, in particular the views of representatives of the waste management, plastic producer and recycling, fisheries and shipping sectors, as well as consumers, NGOs and international, national and sub-national authorities with responsibility for tackling marine litter.

Follow this link to the consultation page to download the background documents and access the link to the on-line consultation questionnaire.

A background document giving an overview of the problem and some of the key policies in Europe with marine litter elements which the Commission recommends should be read before completing the questionnaire is available to download from this link.

There is also useful document giving an overview of EU policies, legislation and initiatives related to marine litter available to download from this link.

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