March 27th 2019 – The ban on single-use plastics

Have you heard about the EU Parliament vote to ban single-use plastic? And do you know what this means?

What is single-use plastic?

As the name states, it is plastic which is used only once before it’s thrown away. Examples are plastic bags, straws, (water) bottles and food packaging. Because the plastic is petroleum based, it’s hard to recycle it without adding chemicals. So often it ends up in nature, such as in the ocean, or being buried. But since this kind of plastic is not biodegradable, it releases its toxins into soil and water, and finds its way back into our food and water.

What can we do about it?

Obviously we can try to use less plastic. But this seems like a hard task, since most food and beverages contain single-use plastic packaging. As a first step, in a lot of countries, they at least now charge for plastic bags, encouraging costumers to bring their own bag in order to avoid extra costs. But this is not enough.

There are also a few “Unpacked Stores” in big cities, where you can go grocery shopping in stores that use zero plastic packaging. You can also buy your food at markets in most cities, just make sure to bring your own bags or containers.
But to make it even easier to avoid plastic, the EU Parliament recently voted against single-use plastic.

What exactly did the EU Parliament vote for?

They voted to ban single-use plastic cutlery, cotton buds, straws and stirrers, as well as polystyrene cups. The ban should come into force by 2021. Before that, EU members have to set up and introduce measures on how they will reduce the use of plastic food and drink containers. By 2025, plastic bottles should be made of 25% recycled materials, and by 2029, 90% should be recycled. Other products such as tobacco filters will be labeled with “contains plastic” to warn costumers that they harm the environment. 

The ban of single-use plastics marked an important day to save the oceans and the overall environment, but clearly there is still a long way to go and we will have to see what comes of the implementation of the rule. There are still a lot of things you can do, to use less plastic. Try to buy as much unpackaged food and drinks as you can. For example, use a glass bottle to drink tap water instead of buying water in plastic bottles. Avoid to-go cups, instead bring your own bamboo coffee mug. Don’t buy cosmetics which contain micro-plastic. 

If you’re really interested in this topic you can easily find more tips and tricks on the internet. Always remember: There is no Planet B!