European Parliament votes to ban single-use plastics for which alternatives are available.

The European Parliament has voted for an extensive ban on single-use plastics to stop pollution entering the world’s oceans.  Products including plastic plates, cutlery, straws and cotton buds will all be eradicated from 2021 under the plans.

The ban is intended to affect items for which valid alternatives are available, which are estimated to make up over 70 percent of marine litter.

In a far-reaching set of proposals, EU lawmakers also set out plans to make companies more accountable for their plastic waste.  The regulations will now have to be approved in talks with member states, some of which are likely to push back against the strict new rules.

The plan was initially proposed in May after a wave of public opposition to single-use plastic swept across the continent.

        
        A scavenger collects plastic cups for recycling in a river covered with rubbish near Pluit dam in Jakarta.
        
        A man climbs down to a garbage filled river in Manila.

Fragments of plastic have been found everywhere from Arctic sea ice to fertilisers being applied to farmland.

Animals as small as plankton and as large as whales are known to eat plastic, and as tiny shards enter the human food chain they seem to be ending up inside humans as well.

While much still remains unknown about the impact plastic is having on the environment and human health, environmentalists have called for urgent measures from industry and governments to curb the flow of plastic.

“We have adopted the most ambitious legislation against single-use plastics. It is up to us now to stay the course in the upcoming negotiations with the council, due to start as early as November,” said Belgian liberal Frederique Ries, who was responsible for the bill.

Under the new rules, member states would have to ensure that tobacco companies cover the cost of cigarette butt collection and processing in a bid to reduce the number entering the environment by 80 percent in the next 12 years.

Similar measures would apply to producers of fishing gear, who would have to help ensure at least 50 percent of lost or abandoned fishing gear containing plastic is collected per year.  Fishing gear accounts for over a quarter of waste found on Europe’s beaches, and “ghost fishing” is thought to be responsible for thousands of whales, seals and birds dying every year.

EU states would also be obliged to recycle 90 percent of plastic bottles by 2025, and producers would have to help cover costs of waste management.

Environmental groups have criticised companies like Coca Cola, Pepsi and Nestle, which collectively are responsible for a vast proportion of plastic waste, for not doing enough to tackle pollution.

Other plans set out by MEPs included an intention to reduce consumption of other plastic items for which there are no viable alternatives by at last a quarter by 2025. These include various food containers and fast food cartons.

The parliament backed the range of proposals with a 571-53 majority. “Today’s vote paves the way to a forthcoming and ambitious directive,” said Ms Ries.   “It is essential in order to protect the marine environment and reduce the costs of environmental damage attributed to plastic pollution in Europe, estimated at €22bn (£19bn) by 2030.”

Many European nations have already proposed their own measures to cut back on single-use plastics. On Monday the UK government announced plans to ban plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds in a bid to “turn the tide on plastic pollution”.

By Josh Gabbatiss, Science Correspondent, Independent

October 24, 2018

https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/plastic-pollution-ban-vote-eu-european-parliament-environment-ocean-meps-a8599686.html

Kenya brings in world’s toughest ban on plastic bags: four years jail or $40,000 fine + Update

Producing, selling and using plastic bags becomes illegal as officials say they want to target manufacturers and sellers first.

Kenyans producing, selling or even using plastic bags will risk imprisonment of up to four years or fines of $40,000 (£31,000) from Monday, as the world’s toughest law aimed at reducing plastic pollution came into effect.

The east African nation joins more than 40 other countries that have banned, partly banned or taxed single use plastic bags, including China, France, Rwanda, and Italy.

Many bags drift into the ocean, strangling turtles, suffocating seabirds and filling the stomachs of dolphins and whales with waste until they die of starvation.

“If we continue like this, by 2050, we will have more plastic in the ocean than fish,” said Habib El-Habr, an expert on marine litter working with the UN environment programme in Kenya.

“This is something we didn’t get 10 years ago but now it’s almost on a daily basis,” said county vet Mbuthi Kinyanjui as he watched men in bloodied white uniforms scoop sodden plastic bags from the stomachs of cow carcasses.

Kenya’s law allows police to go after anyone even carrying a plastic bag. But Judy Wakhungu, Kenya’s environment minister, said enforcement would initially be directed at manufacturers and suppliers.

It took Kenya three attempts over 10 years to finally pass the ban, and not everyone is a fan.

Samuel Matonda, spokesman for the Kenya Association of Manufacturers, said it would cost 60,000 jobs and force 176 manufacturers to close. Kenya is a major exporter of plastic bags to the region.

“The knock-on effects will be very severe,” Matonda said. “It will even affect the women who sell vegetables in the market – how will their customers carry their shopping home?”

Big Kenyan supermarket chains like France’s Carrefour and Nakumatt have already started offering customers cloth bags as alternatives.

 

Reuters, August 28, 2017

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/aug/28/kenya-brings-in-worlds-toughest-plastic-bag-ban-four-years-jail-or-40000-fine

 

UPDATE:  Visiting Kenya a year into its plastic bag ban

A big step divides opinion

Until this time last year, the bags that have now been written out of quotidian existence were widely used, especially at places like Nairobi’s bustling Kangemi market where traders sell everything from fruit and veg to clothing.

The recyclable  fabric totes that now hang on each stall are 10 times the price of their illegal plastic predecessors. Many customers bring their own bags or carry their goods in buckets instead.

For Wilfred Mwiti, who regularly shops at the market, the plastic bag ban isn’t a problem. On the contrary.

“I’m okay with the ban and my feeling is that the government should work out a way in which the remaining bags could be eliminated,” he said, referring to packaging on individual food items.

But not everyone has embraced the new rules with such enthusiasm. Although she acknowledges the environmental benefits of the law, sweet-potato vendor Martha Ndinda is still struggling with the new reality.

 Market traders and shoppersTraders and shoppers alike have had to rethink the way they go about their daily business.

“I used to sell sweet potatoes in plastic bags, they were packed in plastic bags for them to remain fresh. But now they’re becoming dry so fast,” she said.

Unwrapped unemployment

The biggest critic of the ban is the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM). Prior to the new rules, the country was home to 170 plastic-producing companies that employed almost 3 percent of the Kenyan workforce.

Sachen Gudka, who runs a label-manufacturing company, is chairman of KAM and one of the country’s most influential businessmen.

He says a lot of companies, which received no government compensation following the ban, had to close in its wake, and that around 60,000 jobs were lost as a result, directly and indirectly. He would have liked to see the legislation phased in more gradually.

“Kenya used to have a thriving economy in terms of plastic bags to the neighboring countries, all those export earnings have now been lost to Kenya,” Gudka said.

The future is recycling

Betty Nzioka of NEMA, is hoping those neighboring countries will soon follow Kenya’s lead, resulting in “a collective ban across East Africa.”

A sprawling waste site littered with plasticPlastic dumped on waste sites like these is easily blown about and ends up in waterways and in places where it is ingested by unsuspecting animals.

Until that happens, the authorities will continue to face challenges, such as the illegal import of plastic bags from countries such as Uganda.

On the whole however, Nzioka is pleased with public willingness to accept the changes, and welcomes the upshot of cleaner streets and fewer plastic bags turning up in fishing nets  and cows’ stomachs.

Well before the ban, in 2013, student and photographer James Wakibia launched a social media campaign with the hashtag #ISupportBanPlasticsKE, calling for an end to single-use plastic bags.  Wakibia’s activism attracted widespread attention, including from the government in Nairobi, which put a ban at the top of its to-do list.  Plastic carrier bags and their smaller, thinner counterparts used for packaging fruit and vegetables have now been outlawed for a year.

Wakibia wants the government to implement more ambitious rules and would like to see the ban expanded to include further products like bread packaging.  “Many are exempt from the ban of plastic bags,” he said. “My call is to ban all single-use plastic, like plastic straws.”

That’s a move that wouldn’t be popular with KAM.

James Wakibia

. . . Wakibia is now working with activists from Zambia and Sudan on a forward strategy. Because even though his route into Nakuru is now largely free of plastic bags, he knows the broader issue is far from solved.

READ FULL ARTICLE AT:

https://www.dw.com/en/visiting-kenya-a-year-into-its-plastic-bag-ban/a-45254144

 

Plastic microbeads will be banned in Canada, effective mid-2018 + Update

The federal government says it will ban the sale of shower gels, toothpaste and facial scrubs containing plastic microbeads effective July 1, 2018.  Microbeads found in natural health products and non-prescription drugs will be prohibited a year later, on July 1, 2019.

A notice published Friday in the Canada Gazette serves as final notice on the long-running environmental complaint, and it sets Canada on a timetable that follows the United States for removing the tiny pollutant from Canadian waters.

Environment Canada began studying the impacts of plastic microbeads on wildlife and the environment under the previous Conservative government in March 2015. The beads were officially declared toxic in June of this year.

The tiny pieces of plastic are used as exfoliants and cleansers in toiletries but do not dissolve. They then find their way into oceans, lakes and rivers where the beads are ingested by a variety of organisms.

In 2014, about 100,000 kilograms of plastic microbeads were imported into Canada for exfoliants and cleansers, while as much as 10,000 more kilograms were used in the domestic manufacture of personal care products.

Under the proposed change to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, new regulations will prohibit the manufacture and import of microbeads starting at the beginning of 2018, with the sales ban starting six months later.

The writing has been on the wall for some time and industry has already begun phasing out plastic beads from products.

The U.S. Congress approved the banning of microbeads in toiletries last December, effective July 1, 2017, while the European Union Commission recognized in December 2014 that the materials could not be labelled as environmentally friendly. Australia has a voluntary ban in effect for mid-2018.

. . . According to the Canadian Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrance Association, a majority of Canadian manufacturers responsible for 99 per cent of the total amount of plastic microbeads used in 2014 have already committed to a voluntary phase-out by the time the federal prohibition comes into force.

Canadian Press, Global News

November 4, 2016

READ FULL ARTICLE AT:

Plastic microbeads will be banned in Canada, effective mid-2018

UPDATE:

The ban, which took effect on July 1, prohibits the manufacture, import and sale of most toiletry products that contain microbeads. Minister of the Environment Catherine McKenna announced the ban on Twitter, saying that that the move marks the “final step” in the effort to remove microbeads from Canadian waters.

However, the legislation excludes microbeads in natural health products and non-prescription drugs, which will be banned on July 1, 2019.

Nick Kirmse, CTVNews.ca
July 2, 2018 

FULL ARTICLE at: https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/most-toiletries-with-microbeads-no-longer-for-sale-in-canada-1.3997003

Costa Rica bans single-use plastics + Update

Costa Rica wants to become the world’s first country to achieve a comprehensive national strategy to eliminate single-use plastics by 2021.

Disposable plastic glasses       Plastic cutlery

The Central American nation intends to replace single-use plastics, such as plastic store bags, straws, coffee stirrers, containers and plastic cutlery, with biodegradable or water-soluble alternatives, or products made of renewable materials (think plant starches).

The initiative is led by Costa Rica’s Ministries of Health and Environment and Energy with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and from local governments, civil society and various private sector groups.

Costa Rican government officials announced the country’s ambitious plan on June 5, 2017, World Environment Day.

“Being a country free of single use plastics is our mantra and our mission,” according to a joint statement from Environment and Energy minister Edgar Gutiérrez, Health minister María Esther Anchía, and Alice Shackelford, resident representative for UNDP Costa Rica.

“It’s not going to be easy, and the government can’t do it alone,” the statement continues. “To promote these changes, we need all sectors—public and private—to commit to actions to replace single-use plastic through five strategic actions: municipal incentives, policies and institutional guidelines for suppliers; replacement of single-use plastic products; research and development—and investment in strategic initiatives.”

“We also need the leadership and participation of all: women, men, boys and girls,” the statement notes.

Costa Rica has emerged as an global environmental leader, with its frequent 100 percent renewable energy streaks and its 2021 goal of becoming carbon neutral—a deadline set a decade ago.

However, the officials point out in their statement that Costa Rica’s impressive environmental record still has room for improvement.

“Although the country has been an example to the world by reversing deforestation and doubling its forest cover from 26 percent in 1984 to more than 52 percent this year, today one fifth of the 4,000 tonnes of solid waste produced daily is not collected and ends up as part of the Costa Rican landscape, also polluting rivers and beaches,” they explain.

“Single-use plastics are a problem not only for Costa Rica but also for the whole world,” they add. “It is estimated that if the current consumption pattern continues, by 2050 there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish—measured by weight. For this reason, we began our journey to turn Costa Rica into a single-use plastic-free zone.”

“It’s a win-win for all: Costa Rica, the people and the planet.”

By Lorraine Chow, Ecowatch

August 7, 2017

https://www.ecowatch.com/costa-rica-ban-single-use-plastics-2470233949.html

 

UPDATE: Use of Plastics in Public Institutions is now prohibited

In an effort to find alternatives that significantly reduce pollution, Carlos Alvarado, the President of Costa Rica, ordered to restrict the use of plastics in all public institutions of the country.

According to the guideline established by the president, all canteens of public schools, health system institutions, cafeterias, and prisons should avoid single-use plastics such as dishes, removers, disposable cups, and cutlery.

It was stated that other public institutions such as the University of Costa Rica and the Costa Rican Petroleum Refinery have adopted restrictions for the use of plastics. The measure is taken in order to avoid the incorrect disposal of this material that has negatively impacted the country in environmental matters.Additionally, Alvarado and the Minister of Environment and Energy, Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, signed an agreement that instructs the ministries of Education, Justice, and Social Security to abstain from the purchase, use, and consumption of single-use plastics, by declaring that “we are giving unequivocal signals about our orientation in environmental matters”.

By The Costa Rica News staff,

June 19, 2018

https://thecostaricanews.com/use-of-plastics-in-public-institutions-of-costa-rica-is-restricted-from-now-on/

Vancouver City Council bans plastic straws and white foam containers

Plastic straws and white foam containers will soon be a thing of the past in Vancouver. 

Vancouver city Council voted in May, 2018 to ban plastic straws and foam cups and takeout containers effective June 1, 2019 — six months earlier than initially proposed — making it the first municipality in Canada to ban the single-use disposable items.

“It’s a big boost towards Zero Waste 2040,” Mayor Gregor Robertson told council. “This is a really important step forward to demonstrate how serious we are in phasing out plastics and making sure we are working aggressively towards zero waste.”

Council also voted to provide more funding for outreach and education to support businesses and organization affected by the ban.

It did not impose a ban on plastic bags or disposable coffee cups, opting instead to work with businesses to reduce their use, whether by charging customers a fee, providing incentives not to use them, or ditching the items altogether.

If businesses do not hit target reduction rates by 2021, the city can implement stronger measures such as a full ban. The target rates have not yet been finalized.

Some speakers warned council the ban might have unintended consequences for people reliant on plastic bags and straws, including those with disabilities and low-income people.

A speaker from the Potluck Cafe Society, which provides healthy meals for people in the Downtown Eastside, expressed concern over the effect the new measures would have on their operating costs.

While the society endorses the strategy and the city’s zero waste goals, Downtown Eastside food providers will need more time to implement the changes, said Dounia Saeme. She asked the city to consider initiatives such as a subsidy program or capital grants to support the groups through the transition.

Joe Hruska, of the Canadian Plastic Industry Association, told council before the vote that the ban will increase landfill waste and greenhouse gas emissions. He called on council to defer the ban and consult with industry to find other solutions.

Some councillors raised concerns that the ban might affect businesses’ and consumers’ bottom lines and worsen affordability.

Robertson said the city is already spending $2.5 million a year to collect single-use waste items from public trash bins and litter in public spaces.

“I think zero waste is directly tied to more affordability,” he said. “It’s a dangerous thing to conflate taking action to be clean and green to creating more costs.”

Representatives of bubble tea shops asked council to delay the plastic straw ban because no viable alternatives for bubble tea straws are currently available on the market.

“Our industry depends on straws,” said Katie Fung, a manager at Pearl Fever Tea House. “This ban will be detrimental to many businesses in our city.”

Every week, 2.6 million disposable coffee cups are thrown into street garbage bins in Vancouver while 58 million straws are thrown out every day in Canada.

Victoria has implemented a plastic bag ban starting July 1, but that is being challenged in court by the Canadian Plastic Bag Association.

In North Vancouver, Deep Cove merchants have banded together to stop using plastic straws. Organizers of the movement plan to provide paper straws to help ease the transition for some businesses.

by Cheryl Chan

May 21, 2018

Vancouver city council bans plastic straws and white foam containers

 

The Queen Declares War on Plastic by banning plastic straws and bottles

Queen Elizabeth II is banning plastic straws and bottles across the royal estates.

The telegraph reported that the monarch is behind Buckingham Palace’s plans to phase out single-use plastics from public cafes, royal residences and staff dining rooms.  Royal caterers will instead use china plates and glasses or recyclable paper cups. Takeaway food from the Royal Collection cafes must be made of compostable or biodegradable packaging.

“Across the organization, the Royal Household is committed to reducing its environmental impact,” a palace spokesman said, according to the Telegraph.

“As part of that, we have taken a number of practical steps to cut back on the use of plastics. At all levels, there’s a strong desire to tackle this issue.”

The Queen was reportedly inspired to take action after working with famed naturalist Sir David Attenborough on a conservation documentary about wildlife in the Commonwealth.  Attenborough’s “Blue Planet II” documentary that aired last year highlighted the devastating effects of plastic on our oceans and marine life.

The Royal family is dedicated to a number of environmental causes. Last year, Prince Charles helped launch a $2 million competition to stop plastic entering  entering our oceans, which Charles described as an “escalating ecological and human disaster.”

British lawmakers are also urging for more action to fight plastic pollution. A ban on microbeads came into force in Britain last month . . . In 2015, a 5p (5 British pennies) fee was introduced on plastic carrier bags, which led to 9 billion fewer bags being used.  “It’s making a real difference,” May said of the bag fee. “We want to do the same with single use plastics.”

Many businesses in the UK are getting on board with cutting out plastics. Starbucks recently introduced a 5p disposable cup charge in 20 to 25 central London outlets to encourage customers to switch to reusable cups. And Iceland Foods, a major UK supermarket chain specializing in frozen food, announced that it will eliminate plastic packaging from its own brand of products by the end of 2023.

By Lorraine Chow, Ecowatch
February 12, 2018

Scotland plans to ban plastic straws by end of 2019

Scotland is set to become the first UK nation to ban plastic straws as part of plans to cut down on single-use plastics.  The move follows the announcement that the Scottish Government is outlawing the sale and manufacture of plastic cotton buds, one of the most prevalent waste items found on beaches.

Parts of Britain, including the remote Shetland Islands, have also set out their own plans to cut down on single-use plastics in an effort to combat pollution. . .

Businesses like Wetherspoon and Wagamama have already ended the use of plastic straws, as has Buckingham Palace after expressing a “strong desire to tackle the issue” of plastic pollution  . . .

The use of plastic straws was banned in the Scottish Parliament earlier this month, and Scottish Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham stated that ban is set to be extended to the rest of the country.  She said she wanted to see cotton buds phased out by the end of this year, and a ban on plastic straws entering into law by the end of 2019.  “I would strongly encourage the big manufacturers of straws that the writing is on the wall and they need to be thinking about alternatives now,” she said.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said: “We are committed to ending Scotland’s throwaway culture and are considering how we can reduce single-use items like plastic straws.  “There are obviously a number of legislative, financial and accessibility issues to consider when it comes to banning plastic straws, however it is our intention that we will be in a position to confirm definitive plans over the coming months.”

The Scottish Government will appoint an expert panel to advise on methods to reduce single-use items, including the introduction of charges.

Following the introduction of a 5p charge in the UK, plastic bag use has dropped by 85 per cent.

The spokesperson added that when the expert panel is established, plastic straws will be “one of their first priorities”.

Ms Cunningham said there will need to be alternatives available to replace plastic straws where necessary, and noted the speed of the process would be accelerated if there were no plastic straw manufacturers in Scotland. . .

Ms Cunningham said that while it was not as simple as producing “a long list” of plastic products to ban, she would like to expand restrictions to other forms of plastic that commonly pollute the environment.  “I would hope to have, by the end of this parliament, more than just plastic cotton buds and straws done,” she said. “It’s a continuing process.”

 

By Josh Gabbatiss, Science Correspondent, Independent

February 12, 2018

READ FULL ARTICLE AT:

https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/scotland-plastic-straw-ban-pollution-2019-cotton-buds-a8206636.html?fbclid=IwAR1PboD-4B5zUfBzD6qyrm16q_k8sEHhG9M6Fn5a6m-XowVA6zuH4ZBQRG8

 

EU declares war on plastic waste, in particular single-use plastics

Brussels targets single-use plastics in an urgent clean-up plan that aims to make all packaging reusable or recyclable by 2030.

The EU is waging war against plastic waste as part of an urgent plan to clean up Europe’s act and ensure that every piece of packaging on the continent is reusable or recyclable by 2030.

Following China’s decision to ban imports of foreign recyclable material, Brussels on Tuesday launched a plastics strategy designed to change minds in Europe, potentially tax damaging behaviour, and modernise plastics production and collection by investing €350m (£310m) in research.

Speaking to the Guardian and four other European newspapers, the vice-president of the commission, Frans Timmermans, said Brussels’ priority was to clamp down on “single-use plastics that take five seconds to produce, you use it for five minutes and it takes 500 years to break down again”.

In the EU’s sights, Timmermans said, were throw-away items such as drinking straws, “lively coloured” bottles that do not degrade, coffee cups, lids and stirrers, cutlery and takeaway packaging.

The former Dutch diplomat told the Guardian: “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.

“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.

“We are going to choke on plastic if we don’t do anything about this. How many millions of straws do we use every day across Europe? I would have people not use plastic straws any more. It only took me once to explain to my children. And now … they go looking for paper straws, or don’t use straws at all. It is an issue of mentality.”

He added: “[One] of the challenges we face is to explain to consumers that arguably some of the options in terms of the colour of bottles you can buy will be more limited than before. But I am sure that if people understand that you can’t buy that lively green bottle, it will have a different colour, but it can be recycled, people will buy into this.”

Plastic waste on the shore of the Thames Estuary in Cliffe, Kent. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

. . . The EU wants 55% of all plastic to be recycled by 2030 and for member states to reduce the use of bags per person from 90 a year to 40 by 2026.

An additional €100m is being made available on top of current spending to research better designs, durability and recyclability and EU member states will be put under an obligation to “monitor and reduce their marine litter”.

The commission said it will promote easy access to tap water on the streets of Europe to reduce demand for bottled water, and they will provide member states with additional guidance on how to improve the sorting and collection of recyclable plastic by consumers.

The EU’s executive is also to propose new clearer labelling for plastic packaging so consumers are clear about their recyclability, and there are plans to ban the addition of microplastics to cosmetics and personal care products, a move that has already been taken by the UK government.

New port reception facilities will seek to streamline waste management to ensure less gets dumped in the oceans under a directive already published.

“More and more it is becoming a health problem because it is degrading, going to little chips, fish are eating it and it is coming back to our dinner table,” said European Commission vice president Jyrki Katainen on Tuesday.

. . . Every year, Europeans generate 25m tonnes of plastic waste, but less than 30% is collected for recycling. Across the world, plastics make up 85% of beach litter.

Featured image: A Risso’s dolphin entangled in a fishing line and plastic bags in Sri Lanka. Brussels’ plan includes investing €350m in research to modernise plastics production and collection. Photograph: Andrew Sutton/eco2.com/Central Studio

SEE FULL ARTICLE at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jan/16/eu-declares-war-on-plastic-waste-2030

 

When you land in Rwanda, your luggage is checked for plastic bags.

When you land in Rwanda, your luggage is checked, not for guns or drugs, but for plastic bags. Rwanda banned plastic bags in 2008. Ordinary citizens had little problem with this ban, but industry complained. In time every understood that Rwanda gained more from banning plastic bags rather than keeping them.

10 years free from plastic bags. Read more: http://bit.ly/2FfhZMV

France becomes the first country to ban plastic plates and cutlery

France has apparently become the first country in the world to ban plastic plates, cups and utensils, passing a law that will go into effect in 2020. Exceptions will be allowed for items made of compostable, bio-sourced materials.

Plastic glasses, knives, forks and food boxes are being been banned in France. (Bertrand Combaldieu/Associated Press)

The new law is a part of the country’s Energy Transition for Green Growth Act, the same legislation that also outlawed plastic bags in grocery stores and markets beginning in July, 2016. Although plastic bags are forbidden in other countries — including in some U.S. states — no country seems to have embraced a plastic ban as sweeping as France’s will be.

The general idea behind the law — following the landmark conference held in Paris last fall on curbing global warming — is to promote a “circular economy” of waste disposal, “from product design to recycling,” French lawmakers say.

Objections to plastic as a material are well known. For one, it does not biodegrade and only breaks down into smaller and smaller particles, which pose a significant danger for wildlife that cannot always distinguish it from food sources, particularly in oceans. Aside from ecosystem disruptions, millions of barrels of oil are used every year in manufacturing plastic bags and utensils, playing what environmental activists call a significant role in climate change.

In the words of French President François Hollande, the ban is part of a larger push intended “to make France … an exemplary nation in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, diversifying its energy model and increasing the deployment of renewable energy sources” — starting, it would seem, with the forks and knives distributed at fast-food restaurants and the coffee cups in vending machines. . . .

By James McAuley, The Washington Post

September 19, 2016

READ FULL ARTICLE AT:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/09/19/france-bans-plastic-plates-and-cutlery/?utm_term=.10654a5fa940