Let’s face it; Malta could really do with an EU-wide strategy on waste management. Not only were we already lagging behind with the poorest recycling rate among our European partners, but it was reported a few months ago that it’s only getting worse.
The EU aims to clean-up our act by setting out the following targets:
- For 55% of all plastic to be recycled by 2030;
- To reduce the use of bags per person from 90 a year to 40 by 2026;
- For all packaging in to be reusable or recyclable by 2030.
Every year, Europeans generate 25 million tonnes of plastic waste, but less than 30% is collected for recycling (with a significant amount of that being shipped to Asia for processing). Following the decision by China to ban imports of foreign recyclable materials, Brussels is now waging a war on plastic.
Frans Timmermans, Vice President of the European Commission, said in an interview: “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 the seen the images, whether you watch [the BBC’s] Blue Planet, whether you watch the beaches in Asian countries after storms.”
He also put some perspective on single-use plastics in that it takes “5 seconds to produce, 5 minutes to use, and 500 years to break-down”.
.@michaelgove One step ahead of you. EU legislation on single-use plastics coming before the summer. Maybe you can align with us? #EUDoesntSuck #StrongerTogether #PlasticsStrategy https://t.co/hbBBXT1eGa
— Frans Timmermans (@TimmermansEU) February 23, 2018
A very ambitious aim of having every piece of packaging on the continent be reusable or recyclable by 2030 has now been set. The outcome of all this? Taxes and bans on popular products, and a well-needed change in mentality.
The Strategy, launched on Tuesday, shall be investing €350 million in research to find possible solutions to modernize plastics production and collection, or replace it altogether.
Here are some of the solutions the European Commission is currently considering.
1. Setting up more water fountains on the streets of Europe to reduce demand for bottled water
2. Imposing new, clearer labelling for plastic packaging so consumers are clear about their recyclability
3. Banning the addition of microplastics to cosmetics and personal care products such as face scrubs
4. Banning plastic straws and promoting paper straws
5. Putting countries under an obligation to monitor and reduce their marine litter
6. France’s proposal to ban disposable plastic cups, glasses and plates, and plastic-stemmed cotton buds
BONUS: The ‘Latte Levy’
Last week, Starbucks took the lead as the first UK coffee chain to introduce a “latte levy” – a 5p charge on takeaway coffee cups – in order to reduce the overuse and waste of 2.5 billion disposable cups every year.
The Single-Use Plastics Strategy of the EU is still in the planning stage.
The final proposals from the EU Commission are scheduled to be put before the EU Parliament this summer.