The end of the era of single-use plastic

February 19, 2021

Ecological awareness is becoming a frequent guest at our tables. FStarting this year all plastic cutlery, straws, stirrers and other such accessories are to be officially withdrawn from circulation. The European Parliament has approved a final goodbye to plastic, which will come into force in the second half of 2021.

Single-use plastic utensils, such as forks, knives, spoons, sticks, plates, bowls, straws, sticks, balloon handles and polystyrene cups will be banned from being sold in European Union. However, the first step taken by the EU was implemented in January this year, introducing a plastic tax of 0.80 euro per kilogram.

The actions taken have a primarily ecological aspect. The next step is to make even more serious changes. EU member states will be subject to increasingly stringent rules related to the production and recycling of plastic. So let’s look at a few details of the planned changes:

  • The polluter pays – from now on, producers may be charged with a penalty for environmental pollution (this applies not only to disposable cutlery, but also, for example, cigarette filters or fishing nets);
  • Europe 2029 – EU countries have time until 2029 to recycle 90% of their plastic bottles. Also, by 2025 new bottles must be made at least in 25% from recycled materials;
  • Polish recycling – the government plans to introduce a general deposit system. Thanks to this solution, it will be possible to have 77% of plastic recycled by 2025;
  • Permanently fixed lids and caps –in 2025 a new law will be introduced, stating that all lids, spouts or caps must be integrated with the bottle or packaging;
  • Conscious labeling – products will be labeled so that the users are aware of the side effects of throwing plastic and cigarette filters in places other than the recycling bin.

The European Commission pays particular attention to the seas and oceans. The products to be banned – according to the data – make up as much as 70% of marine litter. The main problem is the slow decomposition of plastic waste and the possibility of ingestion by the organisms inhabiting sea waters.

The act follows up on actions already taken in 2018, when the “Waste Package” was proposed – the regulation came into force on July 4 of the same year. Subsequently, the Plastics Directive was established, pursuant to which non-recyclable plastic is to be phased out gradually.

All the steps taken are a reflection of the condition of our planet. The ubiquitous plastic is by no means a problem for the EU alone. The whole world is struggling with the problem of sea pollution. It is estimated that there are already about 150 tons of plastic at the bottom of the oceans. Over the past half-century, the annual production has risen from 2 million to 348 million tons per year. Each year, 8 million tons of plastic make their way into the waters.

The United Nations is also alarmed. The scale of the problem has reached such proportions that the UN speaks bluntly of “one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century”. Solutions that will be regularly implemented are to eliminate the current state of affairs and prevent similar crises in the future.

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