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Is it the end of straws, cutlery and plastic plates in Europe?

Is it the end of straws, cutlery and plastic plates in Europe?

There are ten plastic products that are abundant in water dumps, the European Union is working on new rules to prevent huge amounts of plastics from ending up in the sea.

Frans Timmermans, Head of Sustainable Development and First Vice-President of the European Commission declared that plastic waste is an undeniable problem: “Europeans must act together to tackle this problem, because plastic wasteend up in our air, our soil, our oceans, and in our food“.

It is estimated that the ten products identified constitute 70% of all the waste found in marine waters. In total, plastics are the85% of ocean litter.

In addition to problems for the environment, they also have aas yet unknown impact on human healthsince plastics are known to even reach the lungs and food since plasticsmicroplastics they are present in air, water and food.

Civil society demands

Many of the most recognized civil society organizations have long campaigned to end plastic pollution.

One such organization is Greenpeace, which is carrying out the campaign ‘Supermarkets, stop plasticizing our food’, in which they ask large businesses todo not pack in plastic fruits and vegetables and that promoteBulk sale. They have already obtained more than 130,000 signatures from citizens who support this petition.

For its part, the Retorna initiative is committed to returning to a system similar to the one that existed in Spain until the 1980s, which consists ofreturn the containers either to the store where they were purchased or to another establishment.

[PHOTOACTION] 📸
At # DiaMundialDeLosOcéanos 🌊, we have made our message very clear about a beach in #Mallorca 📢
"For a sea without plastic / For a sea sense plastic"
If you also think the same, spread the word 📲 # Perunamarsenseplàstic #sddr #noplastic #sinplastics pic.twitter.com/Vu1vGue3vl

- Returns (@_Retorna) June 8, 2018

Last Tuesday theWorld Environment Day, which the UN celebrated, among other ways, with a garbage collection on a beach in Lima (Peru), of course, most of the elements found were plastic:

A powerful message from the Pacific for the 🌎 on #WorldEnvironmentDay!

More than a thousand people released # plastic from Lima's Carpayo beach today, in one of the largest cleanups ever recorded in South America. # Without Contamination pic.twitter.com/2TCYSqsM1S

- UN Environment (@ONUMedioAmb) June 6, 2018

And Friday June 8 was theWorld Oceans Day, and, again the focus was on plastics. The nature conservation organization WWF warns that many marine animals mistake plastic for their food. They report that more than half of the Mediterranean turtles have already ingested some of these products:


Marine animals mistake plastic for food and end up ingesting bags instead of prey. Half of the sea turtles have already eaten some kind of plastic in the Mediterranean. #TrapDePlastico # DíaMundialDeLosOceanos #DiaMundialDeLosOceanos https://t.co/uA6Qfn9WWF pic.twitter.com/7Id95jETXp

- WWF Spain (@WWFespana) June 8, 2018

Many more organizations have wanted to join the celebration of this day with their rejection of single-use plastics and the awareness of citizens about the damages of their use, such as Panama GBC (member of the World Green Building Council global network) or the prestigious National Geographic:

Let's save our oceans, free of garbage, especially plastic, since this material is highly polluting and dangerous for some species # WorldOcean Day # oceans # pollution #planet pic.twitter.com/qZ4PPinLoO

- PanamaGBC (@GBCPanama) June 8, 2018

How to deal with plastic products

Due to the heterogeneity of the articles against which the measures proposed by the European Commission are intended to fight, and which must pass through the European Parliament and the Council for their approval, they are varied and include the following:

  • Ban single-use plastic products, when affordable and available alternatives

This prohibition will apply to cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws (straws or straws), drink stirrers and balloon sticks, which should be made from more sustainable materials. It is estimated that the production of these alternative items can create around30,000 local jobs.

  • Reduce the national consumption of those who do not have simple alternatives

The use of plastic food containers and beverage cups should be reduced. National reduction targets may be set, alternative products made available at the point of sale, or ban single-use plastic products from being providedfree.

  • Obligation of waste management and cleaning for producers

Producers must cover part of the costs of waste management and cleaning. They should also supportawareness on the proper removal of packages and wrappers, filter tobacco products, wipes, plastics or lightweight plastic bags. Similarly, the industry will also receiveincentivesto develop less polluting alternatives for these products.

  • Collection objectives

The States of the European Union will be obliged by the year 2025 to collect the90% of plastic bottlessingle use only. Container return plans are contemplated.

  • Labeling requirements

Some products, such as sanitary napkins, wet wipes, and balloons will require standardized labeling stating how they should be disposed of, what their negative environmental impact is, and the presence of plastic it contains.

  • Awareness measures

All countries will be obliged to sensitize consumers about the negative effects of plastic spills and the options for reuse and safe disposal.

What is intended with these new measures?

The new directive calculations include these quantitative benefits:

  • The reduction of3.4 million tons CO2, the equivalent of half of the waste produced by the ten identified products
  • The environmental damage that would occur if the proposed measures are not taken would cost the equivalent of€ 22 billion by 2030
  • Savings for consumers of6.5 billion euros

It is also sought in addition to increasing clarity, providinglegal security to EU companies.

So far, the European Union has already dedicated more than250 million euros to finance R&D in areas of direct relevance to the Plastics Strategy and they plan to allocate an additional 100 million until 2020.

With information from:

Video: Project Report on Tableware And Food Containers From Rice Straw (October 2020).