Tag Archives: plastic bags

Brussels announces EU-wide strategy to fight plastic pollution

Let’s face it: we are drowning in plastic! Even sea salt is full of plastic nowadays. The European Union is actively trying to change this by making every piece of packaging reusable or recyclable by 2030.

The new plastic waste management strategy proposed by the EU underscores how much the world needs a change in mentality. Consumerism has reached alarming levels in the past few years. In today’s world, it’s so easy to pack all our groceries in single-use plastic bags and few bat an eye at the numerous warnings issued by environmentalists.

Here you can see a pair of plastic bags building a nest for their plastic pup.
Source: Pixabay/RitaE

The discomfort of carrying a few shopping items to the gasoline-powered car parked nearby is soothed by this magical invention: the plastic bag (a true environmental nemesis, if the planet ever had one).

A flock of plastic bottles waiting patiently for their mates to come home after a tiresome day of polluting the waters.
Credits: Pixabay/byrev

Yet people still lack the ability to see plastic bags as foes. Their cute, striped, existence underneath the cashier’s desk doesn’t seem to bother us at all. Even more, people weigh fruit at the supermarket in small transparent plastic bags, then put those bags inside bigger plastic bags. It seems like we’re quite attached to this tiny, man-made environmental threat.

After China had announced that it will ban imports of foreign recyclable material, the EU had to implement a change, especially considering the tons of plastic it used to send to Asia for burning or recycling.

Vice-president of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, said Brussels’ priority was to reduce “single-use plastics that take five seconds to produce. You use it for five minutes and it takes 500 years to break down again.”

Cutting down on items such as drinking straws; “lively colored” bottles; coffee cups; lids and stirrers; cutlery and takeaway packaging has now become a priority for the EU leaders.

Finding a place to live is very hard for the common plastic bag, the exorbitant landfill rent forces bags to emigrate to a cleaner environment.
Credits: Pixabay/Ben_Kerckx

“If we don’t do anything about this, 50 years down the road we will have more plastic than fish in the oceans … we have all seen the images, whether you watch [the BBC’s] Blue Planet, whether you watch the beaches in Asian countries after storms,” Timmermans told The Guardian.

“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” he added.

Timmermans believes that if the authorities explain the environmental benefits of eliminating straws or buying different colored plastic bottles, EU citizens will soon change their shopping habits.

Günther Oettinger, an EU budget commissioner, suggested that a levy on plastics could be a smart way in which Brussels could make up for the financial losses caused by Brexit.

Snapshot of the Global Annual Plastic Bottle Congress where the main theme was “life in plastic, it’s fantastic.” 
Source: Pixabay/MatthewGollop

Some of the goals the EU aims to complete by 2030:

  • to recycle 55% of all plastic;
  • to reduce the use of bags per person from 90 a year to 40;
  • to put member states under the obligation to monitor and reduce their marine litter.

At the same time, the EU will offer £310m to researchers that work on innovative designs meant to increase plastic recyclability and durability.

Let’s hope these goals will be achieved by 2030 so that we don’t live to see a documentary narrated by the next David Attenborough in which revolting plastic bags are choking humans to death for world domination.

plastic bag ban

Congo bans plastic bags

plastic bag banMore and more countries are seeking to ban or at least limit the use of plastic bags or have already done so, and the latest government to go for this smart, eco-friendly move is the Republic of Congo.

The African nation has just recently passed a bill in which the production, import, sale and use of plastic bags is banned, according to country spokesman Bienvenu Okiemy. As such, the use of plastic bags to pack food, groceries, water and other beverages is prohibited.

“For some years now, particularly in urban areas, Congo has witnessed major environmental pollution caused by discarded plastic bags which block drainage systems, causing floods and landslides,” Okiemy said.

Sewage and waste management is a big issue in developing countries like Congo.

Although considerate, the motives outlined by Mr. Okiemy are quite minor compared to the overall harmful effects the use of plastic bags pose, all over the world. The main material used in the manufacturing of the bags is polyethylene, a petroleum compound which takes 1000 years to break down. Most of them usually wind up in the soil, which gets contaminated and as such the very food we ate. It’s estimated 1 billion seabirds and mammals die per year by ingesting plastic bags. These are just a few reasons why polyethylene bags should be banned out of a myriad of others.

Nevertheless, I can only salute Congo for taking the innitiative and passing this very important prohibition, although it hasn’t been yet specified from when the ban will be effective. Congo isn’t however the first African country to go for this kind move; Rwanda has lead the continent’s fight against plastic bags, banning them five years ago.

This year, Italy totally dropped the use of plastic bags in the country, while a similar initiative is being planned by the European Commission which might lead to a more drastic limitation or an all together ban of plastic bags in the EU.




Italy becomes the first country to totally drop plastic bags

You probably don’t know it yet, but our planet has a major problem with plastic. I wasn’t able to find an accurate statistic of how much of this is caused by regular ordinary plastic bags that everybody uses, but it’s definitely a considerable number. After a laudable initiative taken on by the city of Seattle, others have followed on these footsteps, and we can only be pleased to see that happen.

Starting this year, the only plastic bags available in all of Italy will be fully biodegradable ones, as a ban of regular ones has already been announced. Italy was one of the ‘leaders’ in this category, being responsible for over 20 billion bags a year (one-fifth of all European use), so it will be pretty hard for them to quickly adapt to such a change, and some are worried they will really struggle with this.

“We are not prepared to face such a cultural change,” says Florence lawyer Giampaolo Pagnini. “We should take it slowly, because we do not have the cultural background to know how to deal with this. It took us ages to adapt to wearing a seatbelt when that law came into effect.” Antonella d’Antoni, who works for a bank in Rome, echoes the sentiment: “This is the same, it will take time.”

However, only time will tell if they can succeed in their laudable attempt. In the meantime, what can you do when you’re going to the supermarket and nobody is going to give you a plastic bag ? I’m gonna let brilliant Tim Minchin tell you.