Mumbai: With 80 per cent of marine litter comprising plastic, instances of plastic residue found in marine species – such as fish, sea turtles, seals, whales and birds and therefore in the human food chain has increased by 40 per cent in the last decade. Nearly 700 marine species in world oceans are threatened by plastic. In such a grave scenario, a move to reduce plastic flow in to water bodies is the need of the hour and the European Union (EU) Parliament has backed this by committing to eliminate single-use plastic items by 2021.
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Parliament, the EU’s legislative body comprising 751 elected members (MEPs), voted 571-53 in favor of the bill. As per the bill, widely-used throwaway plastic items including plates, cutlery, straws, balloon sticks or cotton buds, will be banned in all the member-states of the EU. Adding to this list, the Members of EU parliament believed that products made of oxo-degradable plastics, such as bags or packaging and fast-food containers made of expanded polystyrene are toxic to nature and hence they should also be discontinued.
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. Today’s vote paves the way to a forthcoming and ambitious directive. 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 22 billion euros by 2030, said Frédérique Ries, an EU lawmaker.
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As for the plastic items for which no alternatives exist, the member states will have to reduce them by at least 25 per cent by 2025. This includes single-use burger boxes, sandwich boxes or food containers for fruits, vegetables, desserts or ice creams. Member states will have to draft national plans to encourage the use of products suitable for multiple use, as well as re-using and recycling. Other plastics, such as beverage bottles, will have to be collected separately and recycled at a rate of 90 per cent by 2025.
The EU, which is the world’s second-largest consumer market after the United States, will also target wastes from tobacco products, especially the cigarette filters that contain plastic. The lawmakers said that tobacco products would have to cut by 50 per cent by 2023 and 80 per cent by 2030. One cigarette butt can pollute between 500 and 1000 litres of water, and thrown on the roadway, it can take up to twelve years to disintegrate. They are the second most littered single-use plastic items.
In addition to this, member states will also have to ensure that at least 50 per cent of lost or abandoned fishing gear containing plastic is collected per year, with a recycling target of at least 15 per cent by 2025. Fishing gear represents 27 per cent of waste found on Europe’s beaches.
Shifting the burden and onus of plastic waste management on producers and manufacturers, the EU proposal mentioned that tobacco companies and producers of fishing gear will have to cover the costs of waste collection for those products, including transport, treatment and litter collection.
The decision of EU to ban single-use plastic items is similar to India’s plans to eliminate single-use plastic by 2022.
On this historic occasion we make a solemn pledge that by 2022 we shall eliminate all single-use plastics from our beautiful country, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Environment Minister had said on World Environment Day (June 5) this year.
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NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollution, clean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.