Margriet Keijzer, Head of the Brussels Office of Detailhandel Nederland, emphasised in her opening speech that plastic littering is, indeed, a serious environmental problem, however, plastics per se are very useful and necessary especially in the food industry, where they fulfil very important functions, such as helping to prevent food waste. An idea also defended by Jan Ernst de Groot, Chief Legal Officer of Ahold Delhaize, who also emphasised the role of consumer behaviour in the reduction of plastic consumption.
On the other hand, Jeremy Wates, Secretary General of the European Environmental Bureau, mentioned that the main problem with plastic in our society lies on the fact that it is very convenient and cheaply produced but not correctly disposed and very rarely recycled. According to him, only binding legislation will make a different in the end, although voluntary industry agreements may also help. Raoul Boucke, candidate to the European Parliament for the Dutch liberal party D66, also supported this argument and highlighted the leading role of the European Union, not only in enacting legislation, but also in offering an example to follow to other regions of the world.