|Opis:||The legal framework of the European Union allows its citizens to enjoy one the highest environmental standards in the world. Clean water, fertile land, clean air and preserved nature are important values that the EU strives to ensure. Despite the initial absence of a legal basis for EU intervention in the field of environment, the EU managed to pave its way, initially with the support of the Court of Justice of the European Union and later with the inclusion of explicit provisions on EU environmental competence in the Treaties, into the environmental field and many other areas of citizens' lives and the functioning of the Member States. Being aware of the environmental and economic pressures that the world is facing today, the EU included the concept of circular economy into its main strategic goals, as an alternative to the currently prevailing, but extremely unsustainable, linear system. Circular economy is a concept without a universally accepted definition, which in its broadest form represents the umbrella term for all of the procedures and practices that replace the end-of-life stage with renewal, encourage a shift to renewable energy, work to eliminate toxic chemicals that hinder or prevent reuse and contribute towards minimization of waste and efficient resource management. The global economic model is in dire need of change if we are to provide a dignified life for a growing population. Over the last fifteen years, the EU has adopted numerous documents that serve as a strong support for the circular economy. The EU's commitment to accelerate the transition to a circular economy was the most undoubtedly expressed in the 2015 EU Circular Economy Action Plan. This was followed by two other important documents that continue and build on the vision set out in the 2015 Action Plan, the European Green Deal and the new Circular Economy Action Plan from 2020. Both Action Plans and the European Green Deal indicate that the EU has undertook the transformation of the economic system as a whole and it does not solely equate the circular economy with the introduction of higher recycling targets, which is a common but flawed belief.
Due to its special properties, plastics have already been identified as a priority area that requires urgent treatment in the 2015 Action Plan, which is not surprising given the fact that today's world is facing a special crisis - the plastic crisis. Its production and use are increasing day by day, and are expected to triple by 2050. It is estimated that the vast majority of plastics produced so far have been dumped in landfills or elsewhere in the environment, where they now cause a number of problems that seem to only deepen with every passing day. The circular economy presents itself as one of the opportunities to reduce the negative impacts of plastics and to maximize the environmental, economic and social benefits that this material nevertheless brings. The solutions offered by the circular economy in relation to plastics include: the production of plastics from biobased raw materials as an alternative to fossil fuels; redesigning production processes for plastics and plastic products to extend their lifespan; product reuse and waste prevention; cooperation between businesses and consumers to promote recycling; promoting sustainable business models that allow the use of plastic products in the context of sharing or renting, etc. The EU is actively addressing the issue and diligently updating legislation, as well as issuing policy guidelines for the introduction of circular practices related to plastic management. Some of the key achievements and future ambitions regarding regulation of plastic are adressed in the Mater's Thesis.|