The European Parliament is the lawmaking branch for the institutions of the European Union (EU). There are currently 751 members of the European Parliament (MEPs). The MEPs recently voted overwhelmingly to approve a complete ban on single-use plastics across the union. According to the BBC, the measure still faces some procedural obstacles, but it is expected to go into effect by 2021.
This is a ban on plastic cutlery and plates, cotton swabs, straws, drink-stirrers, and balloon sticks. There will also be a reduction in single-use containers for food and drinks. The list of items that are being banned was chosen because there are readily available alternatives for them. One of the rallying cries from the MEPs was, “By 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans.”
On the heels of this new legislation, more than 290 organizations across the globe including some of the world’s biggest name brands have pledged to cut out single-use plastic. According to iflscience.com, “As part of the initiative, the signatories have vowed to make sure all packaging can be recycled by 2025. They will also aim to eliminate ‘problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging,’ and increase the amount of plastic that is reused and recycled. The targets will be reviewed every 18 months to ensure they are being met. The organizations that have signed up, which also includes PepsiCo, Danone, and Mars, are responsible for 20 percent of all plastic packaging products globally. More than $200 million has been pledged to create a circular economy for plastic.”
It’s called the “New Plastics Economy Global Commitment” and was organized by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
“We know that cleaning up plastics from our beaches and oceans is vital, but this does not stop the tide of plastic entering the oceans each year. We need to move upstream to the source of the flow. The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment draws a line in the sand, with businesses, governments, and others around the world uniting behind a clear vision for what we need to create a circular economy for plastic. This is just one step on what will be a challenging journey, but one which can lead to huge benefits for society, the economy, and the environment. I encourage all businesses and governments to go further and embark on a race to the top in the creation of a circular economy for plastic. One in which this material never becomes waste or pollution.” – Dame Ellen MacArthur
It’s worth noting that Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé were recently named the world’s worst plastic polluters. All three companies have signed on to the effort.
Getting back to the EU, the BBC says the European Commission proposed a ban in May of this year after a surge in public outcry that was attributed to the BBC’s “Blue Planet” documentaries.