According to research carried out by the EU, around 150,000 tonnes of plastic is disposed of in European seas and oceans every year. And although this is a global problem, the union has set out its plans to combat plastic waste in order to protect marine wildlife.
In light of this, earlier in the year, the EU detailed its plans to ban a lot of single-use plastics, which are commonly used in Europe’s supermarkets, restaurants, shops, and other places.
Now, the EU has now taken a major step in the banning of single-use plastic. This would include plastic cutlery, plates, and straws, and would be implemented by the year 2021. It’s believed that since non-plastic alternatives of these items are now available, retailers and fast food outlets should be replacing plastic with more sustainable materials.
It’s estimated that up to eight million tonnes of plastic are being tossed into the world’s oceans every year. The plastic travels through the ocean, having a massive impact on marine wildlife. When fish and other marine mammals eat the plastic, it can lead to death. Furthermore, when the plastic is eventually broken down, it doesn’t decompose like other products and breaks into smaller pieces of microplastic.
The new directive targets some of the most commonly used plastics, which are frequently thrown into the ocean, causing pollution, and threatening wildlife. The list includes cutlery, straws and cotton buds, which can be replaced by existing alternatives – for example, cardboard or paper.
Items that don’t currently have alternatives will still need to be reduced in every EU member state by 2025. More responsibility will also be placed with manufacturers to make sure plastic products are disposed of properly.
The legislation has been backed by MEP’s, with one claiming that if the EU doesn’t take swift action, “by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans”. The vote was backed by 571 to 53, which according to Frédérique Ries, who is responsible for the bill, is “ “a victory for our oceans, for the environment and for future generations.”
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