Great news for the oceans! The European Union has taken a strong stand against plastic waste. A new plan from the commission aims to make all plastic packaging across Europe recyclable or reusable by 2030 – and is a part of a broader strategy to curb plastic pollution.
Frans Timmermans, vice-president of the European Commission, emphasized the amount of non-biodegradable trash that is thrown away every day, including plastic straws, bottles, coffee cups, lids, take away packaging, and others, aptly stating, “single-use plastics that take five seconds to produce, you use it for five minutes and it takes 500 years to break down again.”
As the strategy states, the solution to the problem is to reduce plastic waste through recycling and reusing that would be carried out as part of a circular approach to waste management.
“If children knew what the effects are of using single-use plastic straws for drinking sodas, or whatever, they might reconsider and use paper straws or no straws at all,” Timmermans told the Guardian. “We are going to choke on plastic if we don’t do anything about this. How many millions of straws do we use every day across Europe? I would have people not use plastic straws any more. It only took me once to explain to my children. And now … they go looking for paper straws, or don’t use straws at all. It is an issue of mentality.”
The EU will carry out an impact assessment on a number of ways to tax the use of single-use plastics. The goal is to have 55 percent of all plastic waste recycled by 2030 and to reduce the use of bags per person in member states from 90-a-year to 40 by 2026. The member states will be put under an obligation to “monitor and reduce their marine litter.” Other steps to curtail the massive amounts of plastic we dump into the ocean include restrictions on the use of microplastics, notably on microbeads.
Currently, Europeans produce 25 million tons of plastic waste every single year – and as The Independent reports, less than 30 percent currently gets recycled. Our plastic addition is putting marine animals in serious danger and bits of plastic have been found in everything from sea salt to seafood because it is becoming so ubiquitous in the oceans.
While the action on behalf of the EU is fantastic, if you don’t happen to live in a member country that doesn’t mean you can’t start making a difference today. The best way to reduce the overall plastic waste in our oceans is to start with our own personal use. To learn how you can make a change and help the planet by using less plastic, check out One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign!
Image source: Peretz Partensky/Flickr