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The EU is taking action on plastics to tackle plastic pollution and marine litter, and to accelerate the transition to a circular plastics economy.


Plastics are an important material in our economy and daily lives. However, they can have serious negative effects on the environment and human health.

The EU is taking action to tackle plastic pollution and marine litter to accelerate the transition to a circular and resource-efficient plastics economy. Specific rules and targets apply to certain areas, including single-use plastics, plastic packaging, microplastics, and soon bio-based, biodegradable and compostable plastics.

The EU’s plastics strategy, as part of the circular economy action plan, outlines specific actions in more detail.

Almost 26 million tonnes
of plastic waste is generated in Europe every year
Around 80%
of marine litter is plastic
of Europeans are worried about the impact of plastic products on the environment


EU policy on plastics aims to protect the environment and human health by reducing marine litter, greenhouse gas emissions and our dependence on imported fossil fuels.

The EU also aims to

  • transform the way plastic products are designed, produced, used and recycled in the EU
  • transition to a sustainable plastics economy
  • support more sustainable and safer consumption and production patterns for plastics
  • create new opportunities for innovation, competitiveness and jobs 
  • spur change and set an example at the global level

Specific policies

The EU is paving the way for a global agreement on plastics, to support the global shift towards a circular economy.

The EU aims to address the growing volume of microplastics in the environment.

EU rules on plastic bags to address the unsustainable consumption and use of lightweight plastic carrier bags.

EU rules on packaging and packaging waste cover all materials, including plastics.

EU rules on single-use plastics (SUPs) to fight against marine litter and plastic pollution.


For questions about EU environmental policy, please contact Europe Direct.