4 things to know about the EU ban on single-use plastics

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Reducing the large amount of plastic waste is one of the main challenges facing our planet’s oceans. Among the waste that contributes to this problem are single-use plastics, such as cutlery, straws, plastic bags, among others. These small objects usually affect marine life and their decomposition is slow. To help combat this growing problem, the European Union has banned certain common single-use plastics from July 2021.


What is considered single-use plastic?

Single-use plastics are produced to be used only once for a few seconds or a few minutes. Single-use plastics include items such as food wrappers, takeout containers, coffee cups and plastic bottles, straws, among others.

Since they are used for such a short time, they are more likely to be thrown away. Consequently, they represent a great problem for the care and protection of the environment.


A circular economy model as the ultimate goal

The ultimate goal of the EU is to create a circular economy model whereby all remaining disposable plastics from member countries will be reusable or recyclable by 2030.

Here are four things to know about the EU’s plans for a plastic-free future:

1. The single-use plastics that have plagued our oceans for years

Single-use plastic products that for years have plagued our seas and oceans, since July 3 of this year, have been banned as a result of the entry into force of the 2019 EU Single-Use Plastics Directive.

Cotton swabs, cutlery, plates, straws, stirrers, balloon sticks, and Styrofoam food and drink containers have not been sold since Saturday.

These disposable plastics make up about 70% of marine litter in Europe.

A plastic straw in the ocean can last 200 years, while a plastic cup can last up to 450 years.

2. Not all plastics have been banned

Not all plastics have been banned as part of the plastics reforms.

Bags, bottles, beverage and food containers for immediate consumption, packages and wrappers, tobacco filters, sanitary items and wet wipes will continue to be restricted, while producers will have to pay for cleaning and implement campaigns of awareness of its environmental impact.

3. Alternatives to plastic

Natural polymers that have not been chemically modified are exempt from the directive. Plastics created from modified natural polymers, or from fossil or synthetic raw materials, are effectively banned.

From now on, the protagonists will be a series of new sustainable materials that are not considered chemically modified. Among them is regenerated cellulose, which is used to create viscose, lyocell, among others.

4.Application of the new regime

Although the European Union approved this directive in 2019, community law allowed a margin of two years for member countries to adapt their legislation to the new regulations.

EU Member States have developed their own laws to implement the Single Use Plastics Directive. Some have even decided to extend the list of single-use plastics as prohibited items.

According to the European Green Deal, all EU Member States must ultimately conform to a waste- and pollution-free circular economy model in which all single-use plastics are sustainably reused and recycled. at the end of the decade.

The measures will enter into force in Spain on January 1, 2023.


The participation of each one of us counts

The care and protection of the environment is the responsibility of each and every one of us. Every action we carry out in favor of their care, regardless of its magnitude, is a contribution that brings us closer to achieving a sustainable world.

We must be aware that with small day-to-day actions, we generate a positive impact on our environment.

In DoGood we want to change the world with small actions in an innovative and measurable way.

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