EU Commission presents "zero pollution" action plan

Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans (left) and EU Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius (right) presenting the "zero pollution" action plan in a press conference
EU Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans (l.)
and Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius
(r.) presented the plan on 12 May.
14.05.2021 − 

The European Commission wants to reduce the release of pollutants into the environment by 2050 to a level which no longer poses a threat to human health and natural ecosystems. Its action plan "Towards Zero Pollution for Air, Water and Soil" published on 12 May ties in all relevant policy fields and sets a series of interim targets for the period up to 2030.

These targets include "significantly reducing waste generation and by 50 per cent residual municipal waste". Plastic litter at sea is also to be reduced by half and the release of microplastics into the environment by 30 per cent. The EU Commission also confirmed its intention to propose an "ambitious" review of the EU Waste Shipment Regulation in order to "better monitor waste exports, ensure their sustainable treatment and restrict exports of waste that have harmful environmental and health impacts in third countries". The action plan's objectives will also be taken into account in the upcoming regular review of other pieces of EU waste legislation.

“Environmental pollution negatively affects our health, especially the most vulnerable and socially deprived groups, and is also one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss", said EU Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius at the action plan's presentation. "The case for the EU to lead the global fight against pollution is today stronger than ever. With the Zero Pollution Action Plan, we will create a healthy living environment for Europeans, contribute to a resilient recovery and boost transition to a clean, circular and climate neutral economy.”

Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans said: “To provide a toxic-free environment for people and planet, we have to act now. This plan will guide our work to get there. New green technologies already here can help reduce pollution and offer new business opportunities. Europe's efforts to build back a cleaner, fairer, and more sustainable economy must likewise contribute to achieving the zero pollution ambition.”

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