Zero Pollution Action Plan (ZPAP)

We have a European plan to tackle pollution of the air, water and soil! Good intentions are laid out over 22 pages. If we were not in a highly critical situation, we would be filled with joy to see this action plan that the European Commission has sent to the Parliament and the Council. In summary: we know there is a problem and we have decided to tackle it at the European level.

The zero pollution targets for 2030

Under  EU  law,  Green  Deal  ambitions  and  in  synergy  with  other  initiatives,  by  2030  the  EU should reduce:

1. by more than 55% the health impacts (premature deaths) of air pollution;

2. by 30% the share of people chronically disturbed by transport noise;

3. by 25% the EU ecosystems where air pollution threatens biodiversity;

4. by 50% nutrient losses, the use and risk of chemical pesticides, the use of the more hazardous ones, and the sale of antimicrobials for farmed animals and in aquaculture;

5. by 50% plastic litter at sea and by 30% microplastics released into the environment;

6. significantly total waste generation and by 50% residual municipal waste.

And for the soil:

Furthermore,  the  proposed ‘’Mission  in  the  area  of  Soil  Health  and  Food’, together with the agricultural European Innovation Partnership (EIP AGRI), will promote the wide-spread uptake of  practices  for  pesticide  and  nutrient  reduction  by  promoting  innovations  and exchange  of knowledge. 

It  will  aim  to  ensuring  that,  by  2030,  75%  of  soils  are  healthy,  also  thanks  to  a specific objective on reducing soil pollution and enhancing restoration. As  part  of  the  upcoming EU  soil  strategy,   the  Commission  will  develop  measures  to significantly increase efforts to identify, investigate, assess and remediate contaminated sites, so that  by  2050  soil  pollution  will  no  longer  pose  a  health or  environmental  risk.  New  soil contamination  should  be  prevented  as  much  as  possible,  but  when  it  occurs  despite  preventive and  other  measures,  the  risks  should  be  immediately  addressed.  An  estimated  2.8  million  sites are  potentially  contaminated  across  the  EU,  of  which 390000  are  expected  to  require remediation.  

By  2018,  only  some  65500  sites  were  reported  to  have  been  remediated.  It  is crucial that all Member States have a register for (potentially) contaminated sites, step up efforts to  remediate  such  sites  and  develop  clear  criteria  to  prioritise  decontamination.  The  upcoming proposal  for  legally  binding EU  nature  restoration  targets will  consider  addressing  the restoration  of  degraded  soil  ecosystems.  The  Commission  will  also  develop  an  EU  priority watch list for soil contaminants as well as guidance, e.g. for a passport for the safe, sustainable and  circular  use  of  excavated  soils based  on  Member  State  experiences  where  they  exist.  To better  understand  the  issue  of  diffuse  soil  pollution  in  the  EU, the  Commission  will  work towards  integrating  a zero  pollution  module in  the  future LUCAS  [Land Use/Cover Area frame statistical Survey] soil  survey.  The availability  and  awareness  of  public  and  private  funding  options  for  identifying,  investigating and remediating contaminated soils will be promoted and facilitated.