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Actor Jeremy Irons talks trash with EU bureaucrats

Actor Jeremy Irons smiles during a photocall to promote the movie "Night Train to Lisbon" at the 63rd Berlinale International Film Festival
Actor Jeremy Irons smiles during a photocall to promote the movie "Night Train to Lisbon" at the 63rd Berlinale International Film Festival

By Barbara Lewis

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - British actor Jeremy Irons hates waste with a passion - so much so that he overcame his natural dislike of regulation to team up with the EU bureaucrats and inject some movie magic into the bloc's latest plans on recycling rubbish.

The Oscar-winning Irons took to the Commission podium on Thursday, alongside the EU environment commissioner, to kick off months of debate on plastic waste.

While he believes in the cause of tackling the mountains of dumped plastic polluting our oceans and entering the food chain, Irons thinks the Commission, the EU executive, has a few things to learn on communication.

"Brussels is a bubble. Every now and then it burps and out comes a bit of legislation," he told Reuters. "So how do you get the people behind it?"

Deft PR and the cult of celebrity, meanwhile, ensure a buzz about almost any film.

Irons, who won the best actor Oscar in 1990 for his portrayal of murderer Claus von Bulow in "Reversal of Fortune", was promoting his documentary "Trashed", a global tour of people's failure to deal with rubbish.

The documentary, made with writer-director Candida Brady, came about, Irons said, because he wanted to take a break from the fiction that tends to dominate his acting career and "make a documentary about something important".

Climate change is overwhelming, people feel powerless, he said. But rubbish can be tackled. San Francisco, for example, is aiming to become a zero waste city through methodical recycling.

"It's a growing problem and yet it's a problem that's curable," he said.

While Irons' film is released around the world, the European Commission is seeking views between now and June on possible measures to increase recycling rates and reduce waste, such as recycling targets, landfill bans and landfill taxes.

"Managing plastic waste is a major challenge in terms of environmental protection, but it's also a huge opportunity for resource efficiency," Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik said.

(Editing by Alison Williams)

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