With the aim of cleaning up the oceans, a ban on single-use plastic items such as cutlery, straws and cotton buds is being proposed by Europe.
10 items have been identified by the European Commission for banning which accounts for about 70 per cent of all the filth that contaminates the EU waters and its sea beaches. Plastic plates and drink stirrers are also included in the list.
While the Commission has already made public that draft rules, they need to be ratified by all of the EU member states as well as the European Parliament. It is estimated that if all goes well, the rules could come into force within three to four years.
The legislation does not only aim to ban plastic products. They are also directed at making the plastic manufacturers account for the expenses of waste management and efforts at cleaning up. The rules propose that 90% of single-use plastic bottles be collected by EU states by 2025 with the use of new recycling programs.
More than €3 billion ($3.5 billion) per year could be the cost to the business after the rules are completely implemented by 2030 according to estimates of the European Commission. However, it also has the potential to save about €6.5 billion ($7.6 billion) per year for consumers, generate about 30,000 jobs, and prevent environmental damage and cleanup efforts worth about €22 billion ($25.6 billion).
While criticizing some points, the proposals were described as “a leap forward in tackling plastic pollution” by the Rethink Plastic Alliance — an association of environmental organizations.
The association said that no targets have bene set by the proposed regulations for the EU members states to reduce using plastic cups and food containers.
“This could result in countries claiming they are taking the necessary steps as long as any reduction is achieved, regardless of how small,” the alliance said in a statement.
The plastic industry also criticized the proposal.
While claiming that it supported the “overarching objective” of the proposed regulations, Plastics Europe, a representative body of plastic manufacturers said that more resources need to be dedicated for “waste management” so that there is better collection of used plastic.
“Plastic product bans are not the solution,” it said in a statement, and noted that “alternative products may not be more sustainable.”
Globally, only about 14% of plastics are collected for recycling. The rate of reuse for plastic is very poor when compared to some other materials. For example, about 58 per cent of paper and almost 90 per cent of iron and steel are collected and is recycled.
According to studies and researches, by 2050, the weight of plastic in the oceans would be more than the total weight of all the fish. This has made policy makers, individuals and companies to stating taking note of the problem and formulate policies.
A pledge to reduce the amount of throwaway plastic in the United Kingdom was taken by over 40 companies including the likes of Coca-Cola, Nestle, Unilever and Procter & Gamble last month.
(Adapted from Money.CNN.com)