In Europe, the ban on single-use plastics has started
In Italy too on 3rd July the European directive which prohibits the sale of cutlery, plates, beakers and cotton buds came into force. However, Brussels is ready to change its approach, because bioplastics have also ended up under the axe of the legislation
Since last July 3rd, the European Union has definitively banned the most polluting plastic objects. This is established by the European Single Use Plastic (SUP) 2019/904 directive, which aims to prevent and combat the creation of marine litter. However, bioplastics have also ended up under the axe of Brussels, despite the fact that they are the main way to completely eliminate polyethylene from everyday objects. The incongruity of this decision was raised by Gianluca Greco, co-founder of Natur World, who in an interview with Il Secolo XIX (a Genoese daily newspaper) revealed that a year ago he wanted to open a line of beakers and forks, but precisely because of the imminent coming into force of the SUP decided to do without.
While waiting for the European Union to put things right, products such as cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws, beakers and containers for food and drinks will disappear from the shelves of supermarkets. For other plastic products, such as fishing gear, single-use plastic bags, bottles, beverage and food containers for immediate consumption, packaging and wrapping, tobacco filters, sanitary items and wet wipes, there are restrictions on use but not an absolute ban.
The EU legislation also sets a 90% collection target for plastic bottles by 2029 and establishes that by 2025 25% of them must be made up of recycled materials, a share that will rise to 30% by 2030.
“In Europe there is an increasing urgency to do everything possible to put an end to plastic pollution in our seas” – said Frans Timmermans, First Vice President of the EU Commission – “the European Union is responding to this clear request from our citizens; we have taken ambitious and concrete measures to reduce the use of single-use plastic products. The new rules will help us protect the health of our citizens and safeguard the natural environment, while promoting more sustainable production and consumption models”.
According to the calculations of the EU Commission itself, the SUP directive will reduce environmental damage by 22 billion euros, a figure equivalent to the estimated cost of plastic pollution in Europe until 2030.
Italy has also adopted the directive, approving it definitively last April: tonnes of polluting plastic will therefore be banned, but the inclusion of some specific provisions against plasticised paper packaging has aroused lively reactions from Confindustria. In particular, the bans affecting disposable paper products covered with a film of plastic and bioplastics have ended up in the sights of the Confindustria association.
However, Timmermans himself has already announced that important innovations are coming precisely for bioplastics: “In our action plan for the circular economy, we will propose a definition of bioplastics, so that they can be truly biodegradable, recyclable and compostable. Some create problems because it is not always clear how they are made and how they can be recycled, a crucial aspect for consumers”.