Producer responsibility for fishing gear

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Less plastic in the sea with producer responsibility for fishing gear.

In 2019, the EU adopted a new directive to reduce the amount of plastics in the oceans while boosting progress towards a circular economy.

Estimates show that 80 to 85% of marine litter in the EU consist of plastics. Of this, 27% are fishing-related items, and now a number of operators and agencies are coming together to implement a producer responsibility scheme designed to deal with the plastic instead of it ending up in the sea.

The producer responsibility scheme is set to be fully up and running on 31 December 2024; it means that the operators who manufacture and sell products will also be responsible for their collection and recycling. From 1 November 2022, producers of fishing gear – i.e. operators selling fishing gear on the Swedish market – must register with the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.

The SPIRAL project supports the design of the producer responsibility scheme

A similar producer responsibility scheme already exists for, inter alia, packaging and small electronics and has delivered good results. Achieving effective producer responsibility for the additional area of fishing gear requires customised solutions, such as organisational solutions for collection, sorting and efficient disposal. Another focus of the project is how the producer responsibility scheme can be designed to create participation and conditions which will stimulate new circular solutions and business models.

Innovative policy development

The SPIRAL project is run as a collaborative effort between the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency , the Swedish Board of Agriculture and the Sotenäs Symbiosis Centre, which operates Sweden’s only recycling centre for the recovery of fishing gear and marine litter.

As part of Vinnova’s Smart policy development innovation initiative, SPIRAL supports the introduction of the producer responsibility scheme. This involves testing and developing new forms of cooperation and knowledge transfer between agencies, producers and other operators with the aim of creating better and more effective working practices and ensuring a level playing field. The introduction of the producer responsibility scheme also provides opportunities to work in a more agile manner and to benefit from the knowledge and perspectives of the various operators.

Co-creation and testing in conjunction with the market

The main focus of the project is the dialogue with producers and other operators who contribute knowledge and experience. Producers are actively involved in the project’s development towards an effective producer responsibility scheme and innovative policy development.

The co-creation approach is used throughout the project. It concerns, inter alia, issues relating to the definition of fishing gear in respect of producer responsibility, possible solutions to the free-rider problem and participation in the work on developing harmonised standards in the EU, linked to the EU’s Single-Use Plastics Directive 2019/904.

As part of the SPIRAL project, the collection and recovery of waste fishing gear is also tested. The idea is to enhance the ability of participating operators to cooperate in laying the foundations for a well-designed producer responsibility scheme. The work also contributes to the development of new methodologies which will subsequently render the work on the environment more effective.

Published: 2022-06-22