Europe is taking note and taking charge. In response to a rising concern about the growing amount of plastic produced by industries and omitted into our seas, the EU has launched the foundation for a Europe-Wide Plastic Strategy.
According to Jyrki Katainen, European Commission Vice-President, the ambitious proposal, instated in January of 2018, aims to make all plastic packaging and products recyclable or reusable by 2030.
In its attempt to minimize waste, the plan also aims at fostering a circular economy and financial growth in cooperation with the European Investment Bank.
Individual action is of utmost importance in helping to reduce plastic waste. But have you ever wondered how industries and policy makers are doing to their part? Is the water bottle you put in that bin actually going to be recycled? Even so, why was it produced in the first place?
Seeing as up to 87% of Europeans are worried about the environmental impact of plastic, it’s about time that policy steps up its game. In May of this year, the EU has launched a Plastic-Waste Strategy that aims to make all plastic products and packaging recyclable or reusable by 2030 and ban all single-use plastics. In addition to minimizing waste, the plan also aims at fostering a circular economy and financial growth in cooperation with the European Investment Bank.
During this year’s G7 summit the EU along with individual countries such as Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and the U.K. agreed to sign the Ocean Plastics Charter, while the U.S. and Japan abstained. It was made clear that voluntary agreements on targeting plastic goals are insufficient. Governments simply must move beyond non-binding charter agreements and start creating concrete policies that will target the problem head-on.
On the one hand, it’s finally nice to see political action in response to such urgent concerns. On the other, we know this song and dance all too well: empty political promises that end up falling atrociously short of the goals. As it stands, only 30% of the plastic in Europe is actually recycled. At the same time, the promise of improving circular business models will guarantee a short-term compromise on side of meeting the environmental goals.
Are government officials caught in the trap of setting unrealistic goals to look good on paper? It may not all be doom and gloom. After all, it’s better to aim high and reach for the lowest hanging fruits than sit idly and let the plastics industry get away with (quite literally) murder. With rising health and environment concerns across Europe, the proposal sheds light on the power of policy action and joint collaborations amongst nations. At the end of the day, we all share the same earth, air, and sea. And in a tense political climate, we have to cling on to every piece of positive hope we can. This stands as a reminder that governments and the people must work together in order to generate effective change.
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