Europe Starts the War on Plastic.

The European Parliament has approved to veto the sale of straws, sticks and single-use cutlery.

Europe has taken a big step forward in the struggle to prevent millions of tons of plastic from reaching our oceans.

Last Wednesday, the European Parliament approved a directive that prohibits (from 2021) the sale of several disposable products . That means the disappearance from the supermarket shelves of items such as plastic glasses, plates etc. Also expanded polystyrene containers such as those used in fast food boxes, beverage containers, balloon sticks and those used to remove hot drinks will not be sold or provided. 

Photo: Safety4Sea

The vice-president of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, believes that the restriction will encourage innovation and create employment. He expects that new companies will be born that will commercialise the alternatives to the prohibited products, as is already the case with straws made of metal. And he challenged the most reticent, reminding them that the size of the community market, with more than 500 million consumers, will influence manufacturers from outside the continent, so they must comply with the regulations if they want to access that “slice of the cake”.

The directive also imposes new duties on European partners: States must guarantee before 2029 that at least 25% of the plastic of the bottles comes from recycled material, 30% by 2030, and will have to take care of collecting the 90 % of all used.

The law will also oblige the tobacco companies to assume the cost of cleaning the cigarette butts, the second single-use plastic item most present on the beaches of the EU. The same will happen with fishing gear manufacturers. 

The objective is to make those who pollute pay. In addition, at a time when consumers are increasingly concerned about the content of what they buy, manufacturers of wet wipes, cigarettes with plastic filters etc. will have to include warnings on their environmental impact on their labels.

A week ago, the Government of Gibraltar announced the prohibition of releasing helium balloons into the air, when 30,000 red and white ones were lost in the sky. After floating for hours, their final destination are soils, oceans, lakes and rivers. 

The same happens increasingly in many Dutch municipalities. According to a study by the Nordzee Foundation, in just one year the number of localities that prevent the release of balloons in celebrations has tripled. The reason is called plastic, a material that in recent times has acquired the rank of  the “cursed” for its ability to poison the seas and against which Europe is now battling.

So people, we can all help! Start by visiting Matt and Federica at Caffe Milano who have been pioneers for this cause for a long time. 

Their Facebook Page has recently added this call out for local people to help eradicate the plastic beast.

“With your help this can be a movement to eradicate coffee cup waste! 
There is only one way forward that will really start to make a difference: To stop issuing single use coffee cups altogether. 

Starting from 2nd April 2019 
When you visit Caffè Milano for takeaway hot drinks the only option will be using a reusable coffee cup.

We realise this will mean an adjustment in the short term, but hope you agree it’s the right thing to do and join us! 🧡🌎”