EU Bans Single-Use Plastics
Posted on: October 30, 2018
Waste single-use plastic bottles.
Waste single-use plastic bottles.

Infosuperior rarely covers events which are not focused on Lake Superior and the Great Lakes. An exception follows, based on the extensive coverage Infosuperior has provided about the Lake Superior microplastics situation, especially the problem of nurdles, the small plastic beads which are used to manufacture all manner of plastic products and which are classified as microplastics under both Canadian and U.S. legislation. Nurdles can be commonly observed on many eastern Lake Superior beaches, in both Canada and USA.

The European Union (EU) voted in October for an extensive ban on single-use plastics. The ban passed with the following votes:

  • In favour: 571
  • Opposed: 53
  • Abstentions: 34

It is important to note that while the ban has passed through the EU Parliament, it must still be passed by parliaments in individual nations, before being implemented by individual nations.

The list of banned articles includes a wide range of plastic items from disposable styrofoam plates through to plastic cutlery, drinking straws and plastic bags with a wall thickness of less than 15 microns. Styrofoam fast food containers would be prevented from being placed on the market in 2021. Additionally, single-use plastic beverage containers would need to have a recycled content of 35% and achieve a recycling rate of 90% by 2025. Also as part of the bill, EU member states must ensure companies cover the cost of cigarette butt collection and processing to reduce the number entering the environment by 80 per by 2030.

Plastic debris both on land and in waterways is a societal issue and occurs around the world. On a related note, preventing pollution before it enters the environment is a fundamental aspect of pollution prevention. This is in contrast to cleaning up after pollution enters the environment. By this commonly accepted pollution prevention principle, successive cleanups for plastic, year after year, are definitely not sustainable and not the answer. If implemented in European countries, the ban described above may go a way to addressing plastic debris at the source, rather than after the fact, and may also be adopted in other parts of the world.

LINKS:

Abstract: Plastic Debris in the Laurentian Great Lakes: A Review

Previous Infosuperior Articles about Microplastics and Nurdles

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