New Delhi: For protection and conservation of the oceans, the European Union (EU) announced new commitments to combat marine pollution, tackling climate change impact, marine protection, blue economy, sustainable fisheries on Tuesday at the two-day Our Ocean 2018 summit held at the Indonesian island of Bali, informs a press release of European Commission. For this, it has pledged 300 million euros ($341 million). Out of the pledged fund, 100 million euros will be invested in researching more environment-friendly plastics, within the European Horizon 2020 programme- the biggest ever research and innovation programme of EU. The rest of the pledged contribution will finance conservation, decontamination and sustainable fishing projects in Africa and Asia, as well as an alliance of 200 aquariums that will launch an awareness campaign on plastic pollution next year. Last year EU committed a contribution of over 550 million euros when it hosted the Our Ocean conference in Malta.
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With increasing instances of entanglement and of plastic residue being found in marine species like fish, sea turtle, seals, and whales, and plastic even reaching human food chain through seafood because of the marine litter, 76 per cent of which comprises the lost fishing gears and single-use plastic products, nearly 700 marine species in world oceans are threatened by plastic. According to EU, more than 150 million tonnes of plastic exist in the oceans today as about 4.8 – 12.7 million tonnes of plastic enter oceans every year. Some experts predicted that at the present rate there will be more plastic than fish by weight in the oceans by 2050.
Plastic waste: by 2050 the oceans could contain more plastic than fish by weight. Tonight MEPs debate new rules to tackle the single-use, throw-away plastic products most widely found on European shores. Read more → https://t.co/xDmwxWnThi pic.twitter.com/MxInyBYgSZ
— European Parliament (@Europarl_EN) October 22, 2018
Taking a cognizance of such a critical situation, the European Union (EU) Parliament has committed to eliminate single-use plastic items by 2021 as a move to reduce plastic flow into water bodies is the urgent need of the hour. In what is being called a rather “Historical Step”, the EU Parliament has recently announced a proposal to ban 10 single-use plastic items by 2021. As per the bill passed in the parliament during the last week, widely-used throwaway plastic items on the ban list include
– Plastic bags
– Drinking bottles
– Drinking cups
– Crisp/chips packets/ sweet wrappers
– Sanitary products (sanitary towels and tampons)
– Cutlery including straws and stirrers
– Balloon sticks
– Cotton buds sticks
– Tobacco wastes (cigarette butts)
– Food containers
New EU rules, adopted by MEPs on 24 October, tackle lost fishing gear and the 10 single-use plastic products most widely found on European shores. Together these two groups account for 70% of marine litter. https://t.co/MuxLbTd02b pic.twitter.com/et1jCsuUcT
— European Parliament (@Europarl_EN) October 24, 2018
We have adopted the most ambitious legislation against single-use plastics. 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 in a statement released by EU.
The members of EU parliament also proposed banning the products made of oxo-degradable plastics, such as bags or packaging and fast-food containers made of expanded polystyrene as they are toxic to nature. As for the plastic items for which no alternatives exist, the member states propose to reduce them by at least 25 per cent by 2025. The parliament also decided that plastics such as beverage bottles will have to be collected separately and recycled at a rate of 90 per cent by 2025 and tobacco products would have to be cut by 50 per cent by 2023 and 80 per cent by 2030.
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After the announcement of the decision on the EU Parliament, more than 250 organizations, including governments, non-profits and multinationals like Coca-Cola, Kellog, Danone and Inditex which are some of world’s biggest packaging producers and leading consumer brands signed the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment on Monday at the Summit aiming to reduce the use of plastic and facilitating recycling.
Commissioner Karmenu Vella, responsible for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said
We need the oceans and the oceans need us. We have to urgently reduce marine litter and other sources of pollution, halt illegal fishing and support fragile marine ecosystems. We have to develop our blue economy – create sustainable jobs and growth – supported by cutting-edge research and new technologies. It is for this reason that we are making these commitments.
At #OurOcean2018 – Congratulations hosts #Indonesia
The #EU is proud to announce new commitments & prouder still to be delivering on them. Like our 10% of EU waters that are now marine protected areas. All the details in my speech https://t.co/LCVv1CvP72 #OurOceanOurLegacy pic.twitter.com/yHqMzpolVj
— Karmenu Vella (@KarmenuVella) October 29, 2018
The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, said, No country can succeed alone in this endeavour and it requires determination, consistency and partnerships, within and outside our EU, and it is in this spirit that today we renew the commitment to protect Our Oceans.
Earlier this year, on World Environment Day, the government of India also committed to eliminating all single-use plastics from the country by 2022, as a response to UN Environment’s ‘Clean Seas’ campaign that was launched in February 2017 to fight marine plastic litter endangering marine life and impacting human health adversely.
On the historic #WED2018 occasion, I #pledged to eliminate all #SingleUsePlastics from the face of India by 2022. The India that @narendramodi envisions #NewIndia2022 shall be free of single use plastics @ErikSolheim @UNEnvironment @PMOIndia @BJP4India @moefcc pic.twitter.com/0N69NDdAky
— Dr Harsh Vardhan (@drharshvardhan) June 5, 2018
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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.