The only thing we’ll be ditching is Micro-Plastics!

The movement towards putting an end to unnecessary plastic use is certainly gaining momentum. The wave of optimism comes in July whereby masses of people all over the world have taken a pledge to go plastic free for the month! See below for a graphic which I poached of Instagram @scriberian (and circulated amongst friends, family and co-workers) to provide tips on what actions can be taken by us all. I know we are 10 days into July but it’s still not to late join in the action.  Next time you’re about to use any single-use items ask yourself do I actually need this? Because the ocean and environment definitely doesn’t need what’s left behind!

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Today marked a great day in terms of encouraging mass movement on the issue. I’m sure many of you that follow the news will have seen that Starbucks has committed to stop using plastic straws globally by 2020 The announcement comes a week after Seattle banned plastic drinking straws and utensils. Seattle is home to the first ever Starbucks opened.

close up photography of two starbucks disposable cups
Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

The move will see the company switching to using straws made from biodegradable materials like paper and specially designed lids. The company already offers alternative straws in Seattle.

With this move the company becomes the largest food and beverage company to ditch plastic straws and is a marker of the growing push for businesses to be more environmentally friendly. Changes across the United States are expected to commence in autumn whilst global phase out is said to begin in Europe next year.

McDonald’s also recently said it would switch to paper straws in the United Kingdom and Ireland by 2019. The chain also said it would use only recycled or other environmentally friendly materials for its soft drink cups, Happy Meal boxes and other packaging by 2025.

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That’s the first bit of news! The other is that the European Union today backed plans to ban micro-plastics under it’s plastics strategy.

The European Commissions Environment Committee called for a number of measures that go beyond the Commission’s original proposals, including:

  • A ban on microplastics in cosmetics, personal care, detergents and cleaning products by 2020 and minimum requirements to tackle other sources of microplastics
  • A complete ban on oxo-degradable plastics – a source of microplastic pollution – by 2020
  • A recognition that biodegradable and compostable plastics do not prevent plastic waste in our oceans and should not be an excuse to keep using single-use plastics
  • Any financial contribution from taxing plastics should go towards preventing plastic waste generation
  • The reduction of hazardous substances in plastics to ensure that what is recycled is free from dangerous chemicals.

However, the Environment Committee failed to back measures to tackle pollution from industrially produced plastic pellets, which are melted down to make every day plastic items. It also failed to support stronger economic incentives to reduce plastic production and consumption.

The full European Parliament will vote in September on the Committee’s response to the Commission’s proposal.

Today’s vote is a step in the right direction. It is great progress as previously (much to the frustration and anger of campaigners) attempts to try to present bio-based and biodegradable plastics as a silver bullet have been put forward.  Whereby the real solutions of reduction and reuse is what needs to be the focus.  It is hugely positive that the Parliament has acknowledged this and not taken it forward as a viable solution.