E.U. Proposes Ban on Some Plastic Items to Reduce Marine Pollution
May 29, 2018
Taken together, the measures would also contribute significantly to the achievement of the European Union’s climate goals, avoiding about 3.4 million metric tons, or about 3.7 million tons, of carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, according to the European Union.
Forty-six billion bottles, 36 billion straws, 16 billion coffee cups and two billion plastic takeout containers are consumed annually in the European Union, according to a 2017 report from Seas at Risk, an umbrella organization of environmental groups across Europe that promote marine protection.
The report also stated that about 580 billion cigarettes are consumed and their butts discarded annually in the European Union. Under the proposed measures, each country would have to conduct awareness-raising educational campaigns about the disposal of “tobacco product filters,” and producers would have to share the costs of waste management.
Stakeholders from the plastics production industry and the fishing gear industry generally favored the European Commission’s proposal and indicated that further action was necessary, and even urgent. They particularly welcomed measures that urged producers to share responsibility for raising awareness and managing waste.
But some lobbyist watchdog groups warned that the efforts to approve the commission’s proposed measures would be met with resistance from some quarters of the plastics and packaging industry, which view the proposed regulations as “a horror prospect,” said Vicky Cann of the Corporate Europe Observatory, a nonprofit group that aims to expose the effects of corporate lobbying campaigns.
“We expect to see a big backlash from producers in the next months, who have already been very vocal against bans and financial obligations on producers, and who insist voluntary initiatives are enough to end the plastic crisis,” Ms. Cann said. “In the end, today’s proposal is only as good as its eventual implementation, which will follow after what is sure to be a fierce lobby battle.”
Many European countries have already introduced measures banning plastics in recent years. France banned ultralight weight plastic bags in 2015, and Italy did so in 2016. This year, Belgium, Denmark and Scotland are planning to ban several single-use plastic products, and Italy, Portugal and Spain are expected to introduce similar measures in the coming years.