The end of plastic : the (too ?) great ambitions of Brussels


The plastic is everywhere. Since the 50s, one could almost speak of an age of the plastic, as there has been talk of an age of stone or iron. The figures are eloquent : the world production of plastics has reached 348 million tons for the single year 2017, of which 18.5 % in Europe. The plastic waste of the Union represent 26 million tons. Recycling is still too low (only 30%). Between 5 million and 13 million tons of plastic would join the oceans every year, threatening marine species, birds and, ultimately, human health.

” Until now, we have outsourced our problem of plastic waste to countries such as China, and the country has recently decided to prohibit all imports of waste plastic in the EU. So we need to act now, to innovate and to invest “, was, last September, Mark Demesmaeker, mep from the flemish (N-VA), the group of european conservatives and reformists.

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eurosceptics are divided on the cotton swabs

The processing of plastic waste is also an economic issue as the cost of environmental damage is high for Europe. Of the order of “€ 22 billion up to 2030, “said the rapporteur of the directive, Frédérique Ries (Belgium, ALDE), who comes to be adopted by the Parliament, on a proposal from the Commission, the marketing ban, by 2021, of ten objects in single-use plastic : plates, cups, cutlery, cotton swabs, straws or rods attached to the balloons… The meps have added plastics called “oxo-degradable” (1), such as bags and packaging, and the packaging of fast-food expanded polystyrene.

A vote of consensus within the chamber in strasbourg, as the text has been approved by 571 votes, 34 abstentions, and 53 votes against. Among the opponents, one will note the presence of the meps of the Lega Matteo Salvini, of the six mps of Forza Italia. The deputies Hungarian Fidesz have largely refrained (9). On the other hand, the nationalist right in the French, of Florian Philippot, Bruno Gollnisch, through Nicolas Bay, supported the text. Once again, the eurosceptics managed to adopt three different positions on a topic – plastic pollution – which does not really to debate… The text must now be examined by the european Council. The Commission hope to achieve by a meeting of the trilogue (negotiations between Parliament, the Council and the Commission to agree on a final text) before the end of the year.

plastic Bag : 20 minutes of use, 400 years to degrade

If the EU looks at these small objects, ” disposable “, it is because, mine of nothing, they account for 50 % of the waste found on the beaches of the european Union. Fishing gear (traps, floats, nets, buoys, ropes…) would have a negative impact for 27 % of the litter of the beaches. The Commission concludes, by extension, that we find the same proportions of plastic waste in the sea. The figure that kills : 8.8 million plastic straws are thrown away every day in France by the fast food sector…

Read also Julien Damon – the Use of straws in the glass, what a great idea !

This is not the first time that the Union legislates in the field of plastic : as early as 1994, a directive, amended in 2015, sought to restrict the use of plastic bags, and plastic packaging. France banned the distribution of plastic bags by an act effective July 1, 2016. The end of free carrier bags in hypermarkets has lower consumption. Studies had shown that their average utilization does not exceed 20 minutes, but, on the other hand, they had 400 years to decompose. Everyone can experience it all : the prohibition of plastic bags of cash is variously enforced, especially in the shops…

The butt even kills non-smokers

it is Difficult to get so. Of the rest, the european Parliament has intended that the schools and hospitals that use plates and plastic cutlery would have two more years to find alternatives. For them, the prohibition is extended to 2023.

The Parliament was also keen on hunting for cigarette butts, extremely pollutants. A single cigarette butt takes twelve years to deteriorate and can pollute alone between 500 and 1 000 litres of water. All the more that the butts contain many chemical substances, of which at least 50 are carcinogenic. The butts should be reduced by 50% by 2025 and 80 % by 2030. The european Union would consider in this case to extend the “polluter pays” principle to the manufacturers of cigarettes. After the plastic bottles, cigarette butts would be the second waste marine the most polluting. The european Parliament recommends that the member States can also ” create incentives in favour of a chain of recovery of cigarette butts for the collection of cellulose acetate, a plastic material, which represents 60 % of the composition of the filter cigarette, and then its transformation into plastic items. “

Recycling : the foolish ambitions of France

Another aspect of this directive : to encourage the member States to the recycling of plastic, such as bottles, which will need to be collected separately and recycled to 90 % by 2025. Member States should also ensure that at least 50 % of fishing gear lost or abandoned and contain plastic are collected each year, with a recycling target of at least 15 % by 2025. When there is no alternative, the draft directive provides for reducing the consumption of at least 25% by 2025, which implies that an effort should be made in research and development to find alternative solutions. This is notably the case of single-use packaging for the burgers, the sandwiches, the fruits, the vegetables, the desserts or the ice cream.

last April 23, the government of Édouard Philippe had presented its roadmap for the circular economy and claimed to want to go further than the european Commission, removing the microbeads of plastic in cosmetics and in setting a target of 100 % of recyclable packaging by 2025. At the time, Nicolas Hulot was still minister… was he really ? In any case, it is far as the share of plastic waste recycled in France would be of 22.2 %, according to a study by the German firm Conversatio Market & Strategy GmbH. In Europe, Norway (43.1 per cent), Sweden (40.6 per cent) and Germany (38,6 %) make up the trio of head. The Germans have the rest, a simple method to avoid the buildup of plastic bottles : these are recorded. A proven method to import in France ?

Read also the Fight against the plastic : to the return of the deposit ?

(1) A plastic that is designed to fragment into smaller pieces on contact with light, heat… pollution which became invisible to the naked eye.

On the same topic to Save the planet – tour The world of solutions


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