Due to the properties of plastics and their low cost, their use has increased twenty-fold since the middle of the last century. Programs and initiatives have emerged to raise awareness and reduce plastic waste.
Almost 150 million tonnes of waste are already floating in the oceans (most of which are not biodegradable), and each year it is estimated that 8 million tonnes of plastics end up in the oceans, the equivalent of dumping a garbage truck every minute! The production of plastics, still increasing, is set to double in the next twenty years (press release from the Ministry of Ecological Solidarity Transition and the Ministry of Economy and Finance).
Reducing plastic waste is a crucial issue. If current trends continue, it is predicted that 12 billion tonnes of plastic waste will accumulate on the Earth’s surface in 2050, the vast majority of which will end up in the oceans. Around the world, plastics account for 85% of the waste found on beaches.
As part of the transition to a more circular economy, the European Commission communicated its strategy to protect the planet, defend citizens, and support businesses. If we don’t change the way we produce and use plastic, there will be more than fish in the ocean by 2050
The only long-term solution is to reduce plastic waste through increased recycling and reuse. It is a challenge that citizens, businesses, and governments must tackle together, ”said Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission, responsible for sustainable development. A real challenge: all plastic packaging on the European Union market will be recyclable by 2030, the consumption of single-use plastics will be reduced, and the use of microplastics in products will be limited.
The “Plastics 2030” program
To support this strategy, PlasticsEurope, the European association of plastics producers, launched “Plastics 2030”, a program intended to manage resources better and promote actions aimed at curbing the loss of plastics in the environment and developing recycling & reuse and encourage innovation.
To meet the ambition of the European Commission, which hopes that by 2030 all plastic packaging placed on the European market can be reused or recycled and does not end up in litter, European plastic producers are committed to achieving high rates of reuse and recycling of this packaging. They are targeting an ambitious target of 60% by 2030, which should lead to reaching 100% reuse, recycling, and recovery of plastic packaging in 2040 in the European Union (PlasticsEurope press release of January 16, 2018).
When will global harmonization begin? The European Union also works with partners around the world to find solutions and develop international standards. In the meantime, everyone must be aware of the consequences of their actions on the environment.
Some instructions to remember: do not throw anything in the nature or on the public highway, and sort your garbage so it can be recycled properly! In Europee, we still have a lot of progress to make: France is only in 25th place in the European recycling ranking (2016 figures from PlasticsEurope).
Great initiatives are emerging to educate and inform the public. You can for example follow the association “7th continent expedition”, which works for a preserved ocean by combining scientific, educational and media know-how around targeted actions (www.septiemecontinent.com). You can discover his comic strip, The Plastic Monster, inspired by his expeditions.
Follow the Flipflopi expedition and its boat made from plastic waste and whose coating is designed from 200,000 used flip flops. This boat took to the sea in January 2019 for a three-month journey in the Indian Ocean, intending to raise awareness of proper waste management practices on the populations during its passage.
Offer you a pair of sea2see sunglasses made from recycled marine plastic waste …How about that?