Ocean litter is an important issue, and protecting marine wildlife has been made a priority by the EU. Recent research has shown that a patch of plastic waste has now formed in the Pacific Ocean, mainly consisting of plastic containers and packaging, as well as fishing nets and equipment. Reports have even shown that particles of microplastic are present at Point Nemo in the Southern Ocean, which is close to 1700 miles from the nearest inhabited land.
In light of this ongoing environmental concern, the EU has now proposed to extend its current regulations on plastic in a bid to address the issue. The new proposal is a ban on all single use plastics. There is currently no deadline; however, officials are pushing for the law to be passed in the near future – although it still needs the approval of all the member states and the European Parliament.
Why does the EU think the ban is necessary?
In a recent statement, EU First Vice-President Frans Timmermans is quoted saying: “Plastic waste is undeniably a big issue and Europeans need to act together to tackle this problem. Today’s proposals will reduce single-use plastics on our supermarket shelves through a range of measures. We will ban some of these items and substitute them with cleaner alternatives, so people can still use their favourite products.”
The EU believes that the ban is necessary, not only to protect marine wildlife, but for various other reasons including:
- It’s believed that the ban would reduce carbon emissions by around 3.4 million tonnes
- The ban could also prevent damage to the environment, which could save €22bn by the year 2030
- Not only would it benefit the environment, it’s also estimated that it could save consumers €6.5bn
Which products would it affect?
If the proposed ban is passed by the European parliament, it would include a large number of everyday items. In particular, it would target food containers like plastic plates, cups and cutlery as well as plastic packaging. The EU also wants to see 90% of plastic bottles being recycled by the year 2025.
How would it work?
In order for the ban to be effective, all member states would need to prove that they’re making an active effort to reduce the amount of single use plastic that’s available for sale to the public. They would also make it compulsory for producers to label products in a way that informs consumers about how plastic waste is disposed of and the effect it has on the environment. In addition to this, companies that produce single use plastic products would be offered incentive if they switch to sustainable materials. They could also be made to contribute to waste disposal costs, including paying for the collection of plastic waste from ports.
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