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Leiden students on board with Frans Timmermans

On Tuesday 2 April Vice President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, came to Leiden to receive the Plastic Avengers Manifest from Plastic Soup Surfer Merijn Tinga. The Manifest contains five key areas for a new approach to deal with how we use plastic.

A boat set sail from the Beestenmarkt with Frans Timmermans, a number of plastic activists and two law students from Leiden University, Vera de Boer and Emma Stekelenburg, arriving later at Leiden Town Hall. During the boat trip, Timmermans was informed about a number of new initiatives concerning plastic by Auke-Florian Hiemstra (Canal Cups) and Dirk Groot (Zwerfinator). Later, Merijn Tinga paddled towards the group on a SUP board.

More Leiden students, including Emily den Boer and Thomas Meekel, were waiting on the quay for the boat to arrive. After the boat had moored, Merijn talked about the impact that plastic activists have had on developments related to policy - in particular, Timmermans’ efforts to achieve new EU legislation to ban Single Use Plastics. The Manifest was then presented to Timmermans containing the five Plastic Principles which form the foundation in the fight against plastic pollution. The presentation of the Manifest also marked the official launch of the new website of the Plastic Avengers.


Timmermans spoke about the increasing attention for plastic pollution and how things have changed: Four years ago he was mocked and advised to focus on more important matters;  but last week a legislative bill on the issue was adopted with an overwhelming majority. Limiting plastic pollution, Timmermans said, was not just a hobby for the chosen few, but is something that is in the interest of all.

The Leiden law students who were present, are conducting research as part of the Leiden Advocacy Project on Plastic which among other things provides advice to NGOs, such as the Plastic Soup Surfer. Under the supervision of Esther Kentin they are working, for example, on producing an overview of the legislative procedure on returnable deposits and drawing up legal principles to regulate plastic pollution.

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