The European Commission has put forward a proposal for a ban on several single-use plastics most commonly found polluting our beaches and seas. 10 such single-use plastic products as well as lost and abandoned fishing gear are to be targeted by new rules. These items include plastic cutlery, balloon sticks, straws and plastic cotton buds, amongst others. The new rules are expected to significantly reduce plastic pollution on European beaches and seas but are also intended to encourage innovation and competitiveness as alternatives become necessary.
EuCheMS attended the European Parliament’s ENVI Committee meeting on 16 May where the Rapporteur’s report was discussed. Rapporteur MEP Mark Demesmaeker proposed banning a wide range of deliberately manufactured microplastics in his report to the European Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee (ENVI). Additional stress was placed on the prevention and decreased use of plastic rather than relying on biodegradability – which he explained, can be a more dubious process. Many of the plastics labelled as biodegradable do indeed biodegrade, but often in specific laboratory or industrial settings and do not undergo testing that better reflects natural conditions. MEPs across the political spectrum acknowledged the public’s strong opinion on the matter and expressed broad support for the report’s demands and analysis. Cooperation will be needed however across institutions, regions and countries worldwide if the problem is to be fully tackled.
The Commission’s proposal will now be examined by the European parliament and the Council in order to be adopted.
What effect does plastic have on our own health? Interesting read on such unknowns by National Geographic.