“Material is not the issue” / UNEP publishes report on tackling single-use plastic waste / European Commission and PlasticsEurope add their voices on “World Environment Day”
To coincide with “World Environment Day” hosted by India earlier this week – the theme for which was “Beat Plastic Pollution” – the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP, Nairobi / Kenya; published a report looking at the manufacture, use and disposal of single-use plastics which concluded that the material was not the issue, rather it is what human beings do with it that creates the problem.

The 92-page report titled “Single-Use Plastics: A Roadmap for Sustainability” highlights that while many single-use plastic products, particularly carrier bags and packaging, end up in landfill or worse, the environment, a growing number of governments are taking action, demonstrating that all nations, rich and poor, can become global environmental leaders.

Rwanda, a pioneer in banning single-use plastic bags, is now one of the cleanest nations on earth, the report claims. Kenya has followed suit (see of 06.09.2018), it adds, helping clear its iconic national parks and save its cows from an unhealthy diet. Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment, says, “Learning from the experience of countries that have introduced bans and regulations on single-use plastics, this assessment analyses what has worked well, what hasn’t, and why. The report is therefore a tool for policymakers who intend to introduce measures to regulate the production and use of disposable plastics.”

The report looks at legislation to outlaw the use of certain single-use products. It notes that more than 60 countries have introduced bans and levies to curb single-use plastic waste. While data on the outcomes of bans and levies is sketchy, around 30% of those countries that do have the numbers report a massive drop in the use of products such as single-use carrier bags in the first year.
UNEP roadmap for single-use plastics
The UNEP report recommends countries undertake a 10-step plan, including baseline assessment to identify the “most problematic” single-use plastics. This is in line with the European Commission’s proposal last month to put rules in place for reducing single-use plastic products and curbing marine litter. The EU proposal is focused on the top 10 disposable plastic items found on European beaches and in the seas, as well as abandoned or disposed fishing gear (see of 29.05.2018). UNEP also recommends governments consider the best actions with respect to possible impacts on poorer communities and different industries, identify and engage stakeholders, raise public awareness, incentivise industry, promote alternatives and put in place suitable enforcement measures.
PlasticsEurope supports initiatives against marine litter
UN Environment launched its “CleanSeas” campaign in 2017 in Bali (Photo: UNEP)
Also on World Environment Day, the EU commission launched a public awareness campaign, which focuses on the impact that different kinds of single-use plastics cause, highlighting sustainable, available and affordable alternatives that form the key to tackling the problem. The commission said the campaign, part of the EU’s circular economy agenda, features a video and runs social media and web platforms and “shines a spotlight on different categories of single-use plastic items, including cotton buds, carrier bags, coffee cups and their lids, straws, cutlery, lollipop sticks and sweet wrappers and plastic bottles.”

Plastics producers association PlasticsEurope (Brussels / Belgium; highlighted the industry’s own contribution to the efforts to reduce waste, noting a number of initiatives were being pursued this year including “Operation Clean Sweep” (see of 10.11.2017), an international programme designed to prevent the loss of plastic pellets during the manufacturing process, and “Plastics 2030 – Voluntary Commitment”, which focuses on increasing reuse and recycling, preventing plastics leakage into the environment and accelerating resource efficiency.

UNEP report “Single Use Plastics: A Roadmap for Sustainability” (June 2018) as a PDF file
07.06.2018 [239906-0]
Published on 07.06.2018
UNEP: Roadmap für den Umgang mit Einweg-KunststoffenGerman version of this article...

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