Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα Plastic bags. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων
Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα Plastic bags. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων

Παρασκευή, 21 Νοεμβρίου 2014

Reducing use of plastic bags: MEPs strike deal with Council Presidency


EU countries would have to reduce the use of the commonest and most polluting plastic carrier bags, under draft rules informally agreed between MEPs and the Italian Presidency of the Council on Monday and confirmed by the member states’ permanent representatives on Friday. Plastic carrier bag litter is a major environmental problem, as it is known to pollute bodies of water and aquatic eco-systems in particular.


 "This is an historic moment for all of Europe. For the first time ever we have agreed on ambitious measures to reduce the amount of plastic bag waste in the environment. This is good news for the environment and all Europeans who expected the EU to take ambitious action on plastic bags”, said Margrete Auken (Greens/EFA, DK), who is steering the legislation through Parliament.

“As front-running countries have demonstrated, dramatically reducing the consumption of these disposable bags is easily achievable with a consistent policy. Swiftly phasing out these bags is a readily-implementable solution to the pervasive problem of plastic waste in the environment", she added.

“We are satisfied with the green light for this important dossier” said Environment Committee chair Giovanni La Via (EPP, IT).

“The European Commission’s new approach demonstrates an important sense of responsibility. We called upon the Commission to act as a real facilitator between the two legislative institutions. Parliament and Council have done a good job for the Environment and the European citizens”, he added.

Reduction targets

If the rules come into force, member states would be able to choose between two policy options: to either take measures to ensure that average yearly consumption of these bags does not exceed, on 90 lightweight bags per citizen by 2019 and 40 by 2025, or alternatively, ensure that, by 2018, they are not handed to shoppers free of charge.

The European Commission would have to evaluate the impact on the environment of oxo-degradable plastic materials, which fragment into small particles, and propose measures accordingly.

Next steps

The agreement between the EP delegation and the Italian Presidency will be put to a vote in the Environment Committee on Monday 24 November in Strasbourg.

Background

Lightweight plastic bags thinner than 50 microns – the vast majority of plastic carrier bags used in the EU – are less reusable than thicker models and become waste more quickly. They are also more prone to litter the environment.

In 2010 every EU citizen used an estimated 198 plastic carrier bags, some 90% of which were lightweight. In a business-as-usual scenario, consumption of plastic bags is expected to grow further. Estimates also suggest that over eight billion plastic carrier bags became litter in the EU in 2010.
 http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/news-room/content/20141121IPR79835/
21/11/14
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Τρίτη, 24 Ιουνίου 2014

Plastic waste causes $13 billion in annual damage to marine ecosystems, says UN agency


UN, 23 June 2014 – Concern is growing over widespread plastic waste that is threatening marine life – with conservative yearly estimates of $13 billion in financial damage to marine ecosystems, according to two reports issued at the inaugural meeting of the United Nations Environment Assembly.
“Plastic contamination threatens marine life, tourism, fisheries and businesses,” underscores the eleventh edition of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Year Book, which updates 10 issues previously highlighted over the past decade and provides mitigation steps for each.

“Plastics undoubtedly play a crucial role in modern life, but the environmental impacts of the way we use them cannot be ignored,” added Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director.
Valuing Plastic, a UNEP-supported report produced by the Plastic Disclosure Project (PDP) and Trucost, makes the business case for managing and disclosing plastic use in the consumer goods industry. 

“Over 30 per cent of the natural capital costs are due to greenhouse gas emissions from raw material extraction and processing,” says the report, adding “marine pollution is the largest downstream cost, with the $13 billion figure most likely a significant underestimate.”
Calculating the negative financial impact of issues, such as marine environment or air pollution caused by incinerating plastic, the report reveals that the overall natural capital cost in the consumer goods sector each year is $75 billion.

A large and unquantifiable amount of plastic waste enters the ocean from littering, poorly managed landfills, tourist activities and fisheries. Some of this material sinks to the ocean floor, while some floats and can travel over great distances on ocean currents – polluting shorelines and accumulating in massive mid-ocean gyres.
“These reports show that reducing, recycling and redesigning products that use plastics can bring multiple green economy benefits: from reducing economic damage to marine ecosystems and the tourism and fisheries industries – vital for many developing countries – to bringing savings and opportunities for innovation to companies while reducing reputational risks,” advocated Mr. Steiner.

There have been many reliable reports of environmental damage due to plastic waste that include mortality or illness when ingested by sea creatures such as turtles; entanglement of animals, such as dolphins and whales; and damage to critical habitats, such as coral reefs.
There are also concerns about chemical contamination, invasive species spread by plastic fragments and economic damage to the fishing and tourism industries in many countries by, for example, fouling fishing equipment and polluting beaches.
Since the 2011 UNEP Year Book last reviewed plastic waste in the ocean, concern has grown over microplastics (particles up to 5 mm in diameter, either manufactured or created when plastic fragments), which have been ingested by marine organisms – including seabirds, fish, mussels, worms and zooplankton. 

“One emerging issue is the increasing use of microplastics directly in consumer products, such as ‘microbeads’ in toothpaste, gels and facial cleansers,” explains the UNEP Year Book. “These microplastics tend not to be filtered out during sewage treatment, but are released directly into rivers, lakes and the ocean.”
Communities of microbes have been discovered thriving on microplastics at multiple locations in the North Atlantic – where the “plastisphere” can facilitate the transport of harmful microbes, pathogens and algal species.

The Yearbook affirms that “microplastics have also been identified as a threat to larger organisms, such as the endangered northern right whale, which is potentially exposed to ingestion through filter-feeding.”
Production trends, use patterns and changing demographics are expected to cause increasing plastic use, and both reports call for companies, institutions and consumers to reduce their waste.

Valuing Plastic finds that while consumer goods companies currently save $4 billion each year through good plastic management, such as recycling, plastic use disclosure is poor. Less than half of the 100 companies assessed reported any data relevant to plastic.
“The research unveils the need for companies to consider their plastic footprint, just as they do for carbon, water and forestry,” said Andrew Russell, Director of the PDP. “By measuring, managing and reporting plastic use and disposal through the PDP, companies can mitigate the risks, maximize the opportunities, and become more successful and sustainable.”
Initiatives such as the PDP and UNEP-led Global Partnership on Marine Litter have helped raise awareness of, and begun to address, the issue. However, much more needs to be done.
Recommendations of the reports include that companies monitor their plastic use and publish the results in annual reports; and commit to reducing the environmental impact of plastic through clear targets, deadlines and efficiency and recycling innovations.
Since plastic particles can be ingested by marine organisms and potentially accumulate and deliver toxins through the food web, efforts should be stepped up to fill the knowledge gaps and better understand the capacity of various plastics to absorb and transfer persistent, toxic and bioaccumulating chemicals. 

“By putting a financial value on impacts – such as plastic waste – companies can further integrate effective environmental management into mainstream businesses,” asserted Trucost Chief Executive Richard Mattison. “By highlighting the savings from reuse and recycling, it builds a business case for proactive sustainability improvements.”
 un.org
23/6/14
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Πέμπτη, 24 Απριλίου 2014

No more plastic bags polluting our environment. - Should gradually be replaced by biodegradable and compostable bags

Life in plastic is not so fantastic after all. Plastic bags have been blamed for polluting the environment, especially aquatic ecosystems. In April MEPs voted in favour of halving the consumption of lightweight plastic bags by 2017 and reducing it by 80% by 2019 compared to 2010 levels. The topic of last month's guest photographer contest was plastic bags. The winning photo illustrates this article.

The scale of the problem

In 2010 there were 200 bags for everyone who lived in the EU, according to an estimate by the EP's library research service.


New legislation

The legislation approved by MEPs during the April plenary in Strasbourg foresees a mandatory charging for carrier bags in the food sector and a recommendation to charge for bags in the non-food sector. Charges could be reduced for bags that are biodegradable and compostable.


Light bags that are used to wrap up loose food should gradually be replaced by biodegradable and compostable bags by 2019.

Margrete Auken, a Danish MEP who is a member of the Green group, is in charge of steering the legislation through Parliament. She said after the vote: "MEPs have today voted to significantly strengthen draft EU rules aimed at reducing plastic bag use and waste, notably to include obligatory European reduction targets and a requirement that plastic bags come at a cost. As front-running countries have demonstrated, dramatically reducing the consumption of these disposable bags is easily achievable with a coherent policy."

About the photo

This article is illustrated with the picture "Nowadays" taken by Gábor Szello. Mr Szello works as a freelance photographer in Hungary, where he takes mostly photos of people, streets and landscapes. To view more of his work, click on the link on the right.

The topic for next month is "On the way to vote - election date". To enter the contest, send your contribution by Sunday 25 May. This time each participant can send between one and five pictures. Click here for more details.

[europarl.europa.eu]
24/4/14
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