The EU declared war on single-use plastics, to tackle the plastic pollution problem.
The current plastic figures in Europe are shocking: every year more than 25 tonnes of plastic are discarded and only 30% is collected for recycling. Plastic accounts for 85% of beach litter.
Last month, the EU launched a new plan to reduce dramatically the problem of plastic pollution. This plan is accompanied by a healthy €350 million investment in research to improve plastic production and collection.
Frans Timmermans, vice-president of the commission, said that the aim of the strategy is to suppress “single-use plastics that take five seconds to produce, you use it for five minutes and it takes 500 years to break down again”.
The main concern is that we risk having more plastic than fishes in the ocean, if we continue with such a heavy use of throw-away items, such as straws, cutlery, plates and packaging.
Probably the other problem is that people are not informed enough and use disposable even when not necessary and if they were more aware of the effects they will have on the planet.
EU strategy on single-use plastics
One of the goals of the strategy is to recycle 55% of plastic by 2030. By 2030, all packaging must be reusable or recyclable.
Member states should work to reduce the use of bags from 90 to 40 bags per person a year by 2026, they should also recycle 90% of the plastic bottles used for drinking by 2025, producers need to help countries to cover the recycling costs. Member states will have to monitor their progress towards the reduction of marine waste.
The EU will offer support to member states to improve the recycling process and will make tap water widely available in more streets to effectively diminish the need for plastic bottles. Another measure is providing clearer labelling for products, so consumers can be informed whether an item can be recycled or not. Microplastics will be banned in cosmetics and personal care products.
The EU is planning to impose some taxes in order to reduce dramatically the use of disposable plastic items. Taxing these items would not only be an eco-friendly initiative, but it would also cover the big hole in the budget caused by the UK leaving the Union (Brexit), as Günther Oettinger said.
The EU concerns are not purely environmental related, but they are also related to people’s health, one hand because of the level pollution and on the other hand because we are eating fishes that have been eating plastic.
The worst plastic items
At the core of the EU strategy there are some single-use plastic items, the worst ones are deemed to be cotton buds, cutlery, stirrers, balloon sticks and drinks containers. These items are sometimes difficult to recycle and very often they are dispersed in the environment. For example, see below to discover how we misuse cotton buds.
What will the results be?
The EU had estimated the effects that the ban will have:
- 3.4 million tonnes less of carbon emissions
- Prevent damage to the environment estimated €22bn by 2030
- Save consumers €6.5bn
The proposed strategy seems it will have very positive effect in the short and long run. However, educating consumers and future generation is the very first step to reduce the use of single-use plastics.
At Jupiter Flatware, we take care of the environment that’s why we created a brand new line of biodegradable products: cutlery, cups and bowls.