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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

Global action on plastics

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.

Plastic bags

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

Plastic packaging

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

Single-use 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.


The evidence base for plastic pollution policies
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The evidence base for plastic pollution policies

Issue 609: Over the last decade policymakers across the world have implemented measures to counter plastic pollution. This independent study analyses these key policy initiatives and concludes that they are backed by science.

Global actions on plastics
  • News article

EU calls for agreement on global rules to end plastic pollution

On Monday, the second high-level round of negotiations on the way to achieving a global treaty against plastic pollution starts in Paris. Commissioner Sinkevičius will represent the Commission at the high-level meeting organised by the United Nations.