PVC management has to take three dimensions into account

The management of PVC must take into account the three dimensions of sustainable development: the needs of economic welfare, social justice and a clean and safe environment, says Environment Commissioner, Margot Walstrom.

Talking at the public hearing on the environmental issues of PVC, in Brussels, part of the Commission’s consultation process launched in July (see related story), the Environment Commissioner said, “We have to ensure that the linkages between the three dimensions are properly managed, so that one is not traded against the other and that instead they support each other,” said Walstrom.

The Commissioner acknowledged the importance of the PVC industrial sector which manufactures one of the most widely used plastics in the world. The key problem, however, she said, is the protection of the environment.

“The Community policy on environment aims at a high level of protection,” said the Commissioner. “Ensuring that this objective is respected requires that we abide by a number of principles when designing and implementing our environmental policies. The precautionary principle, the principles that pollution should be rectified at source, that the polluter should pay, and that priority should be given to preventive action are already in the Treaty.”

According to Margot Walstrom, the Commission has not yet made up its mind as to which solutions to use in order to solve PVC issues.

“We are confronted with a complex and controversial environmental problem,” said Walstrom. “The Commission has therefore decided to proceed step by step. Firstly to undertake a thorough analysis based on scientific and economic grounds. Secondly, to launch this broad public consultation. Thirdly, to present a Community strategy on PVC in early 2001.”

Comments can still be made on the Green Paper until the end of November, and can be sent by email to [email protected], or by post to Mr Kramer, Head of the Waste Management Unit (DG ENV) and Mr Schulte Braucks, Head of the Chemicals Unit (DG ENTR), 200 rue de la Loi / Wetstraat 200, B-1049 Bruxelles/Brussel, Belgium, or by fax to +32 2 299 10 68 / +32 2 295 02 81.

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