We’re drowning in plastic trash. From the summit of Mount Everest to the deepest oceans, plastic is everywhere. Plastic is an incredibly versatile material that can have important uses, but our current use of plastic is very troubling for the planet. Because, unlike organic materials, plastic does not rot and degrade (or only very slowly) and so the mountains of rubbish continue to grow all over the world – the European Union alone produces more than 2.5 billion tons of waste annually.

Disposable items such as plastic bags, cups or packaging that are thrown away after only one use and end up in the garbage are particularly harmful. Because of this phenomenon, our current economy is also known as the “throwaway economy”. However, the negative consequences of our plastic consumption go far beyond littering: The production and consumption of plastics contribute to global warming, pollute air and water and can lead to poisoning in humans. What can we do about these alarming developments?

What is the EU doing against plastic pollution? The EU has recognised the plastic problem and is trying to take action against high plastic consumption with new laws. The most important building block is the circular economy action plan, which, together with the European Green Deal, aims to make the EU more sustainable. As the name suggests, the circular economy action plan aims to transform the European economy into a circular economy. What does that mean?

In a circular economy, existing materials and products should be reused, repaired, shared and recycled for as long as possible so that they have a significantly longer lifespan. For example, the EU passed a directive in 2019 that completely bans some single-use plastic items and restricts the use of other single-use products. Further laws are to follow in the coming years. Will that be enough to eliminate our plastic problem?

What can consumers do? In order for the circular economy action plan to be successful, consumers must also help on a daily basis. Environmental associations and the EU advise consumers to follow the motto “Reduce, reuse, recycle!”. This means that citizens should consciously buy fewer plastic products in their everyday shopping and should avoid using single-use plastic as much as possible. The products that you already have should be used several times if possible, maybe even converted, and if that is no longer possible, plastic products and packaging should not be thrown away, but recycled.

What can we do about plastic pollution? How should the EU and national governments proceed against plastic pollution? What do you do in your everyday life to reduce your plastic consumption? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

Image Credits: Bigstock (c) Veja


10 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Jesper

    We could indeed do more and do better. Firstly we have to include more players and institutions. The joined effort should include working with organizations like WWF and on the other hand invite business organizations, and big corporations to join as well. Taxes are another tool and it should be used in a clever and forward-looking way, while we still make sure, we don’t lose the battle, by leaving behind ordinary people and small businesses. Also, we need more information on the consequences of climate change and the impact plastic pollution has on our planet and life in general. In the end, we will need to accept, that reducing pollution will be tough on everyone and that everyone will have to pay a price – but also accepting, that not everyone understands the problem and consequences – and some of them will be as scared and thereby as receptive for conspiracy theories and misinformation, as is the case with the current pandemic. Those people need to be taken seriously (to some extend of cause), while also be informed on facts.

  2. avatar
    Asuman

    Atıkları parayla toplayıp, geri dönüşüme çevirmek…

  3. avatar
    Vladislav

    Well banning plastic is a very bad idea paper bags and straws will do a lot more harm than good plastic can be recycled and do you know how paper is made and how many chemicals are released

  4. avatar
    Lode

    We are 100% recycling plastic, so there is no issue. My plastic waste bags are the raw materials for the bumpers of my next car.

  5. avatar
    Laszlo

    There are several good plastic substitutes, for example PLA and sugar cane fiber. There could be some policy level support for PLA (it is made from plant starch). If PLA based products could have similar consumer price range as regular plastic, it would be good for both the environment and the economy, and it would generate agricultural revenue.

  6. avatar
    EU Reform Proactive

    I think the “political convincing phase” & rhetoric regarding (plastic) pollution to “reduce, reuse, recycle” has long expired and one expects all governments to be in an advanced stage of implementation.

    Are they? Or do politicians still ponder between “climate change/CO2 reduction”, greening & attending new “climate change” meetings?

    190 out of 197 countries ratified the “2015 Paris Agreement”. How much has global pollution been reduced since- or will “accords” ever significantly assist to reduce the contamination of earth?

    https://www.climatechangenews.com/2020/08/13/countries-yet-ratify-paris-agreement/

    Why not investigate instead- who, where & how much action (recycling) of the “circular economic action plan” is really happening today. The rankings may differ slightly, depending on who done the research.

    https://www.hintonswaste.co.uk/news/history-of-recycling-timeline/

    1. Germany – 56.1%
    2. Austria – 53.8%
    3. South Korea – 53.7%
    4. Wales – 52.2%
    5. Switzerland – 49.7%

    Note: Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Nestlé top a list of the biggest plastic polluters globally. It is reported that the average decomposition period of plastic is around 20-25 generations.
    https://www.statista.com/chart/23720/worst-polluting-companies/

    Another good link:
    https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/causes-effects-solutions-of-plastic-pollution.php.

    “Rapid urbanization and population growth increase the demand for cheap plastics.”

    Politicians are masters in euphemistic language skipping around overpopulation, overconsumption, overproduction, overutilization, overconfidence in having elusive agreements to fix these ills with laws, regulations & money printing. However, overemphasis on human rights without stressing its obligations and responsibilities is counterproductive.

    1st & 3rd world problems differ historically. The standards in 1st world resourceful & stable countries cannot be matched by the poor, inefficient & dysfunctional ones with appalling national and local governance, burdened by massive corruption & misdirected funding.

    ONE accord for ALL 197 assumes equal capacities & equal honesty- which is unrealistic.

  7. avatar
    Vladislav

    Do not ban it. Promote recycling by giving billions to recycling companies and impose draconian fines for those, that litter

  8. avatar
    George

    sanction Coca Cola, and those who produced the plastics

  9. avatar
    George

    sanction Coca Cola, and those who produced the plastics

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