EU Parliament Bans Plastics Responsible for 70% of Ocean Trash
The European Parliament approved a ban on single-use plastics Wednesday, meaning that common plastic items that make up 70 percent of marine litter will be banned in the EU by 2021, the parliament announced in a press release.
The law also sets targets for the collection of plastic bottles, includes new labeling laws and strengthens provisions to ensure companies pay to clean up the pollution they cause.
"Today we have taken an important step to reduce littering and plastic pollution in our oceans and seas," European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said, as The Guardian reported. "We got this, we can do this. Europe is setting new and ambitious standards, paving the way for the rest of the world."
Parliament has approved a new law banning single-use plastic items: ✔️ Items such as single-use straws to be banne… https://t.co/0iuDP99co9— European Parliament (@European Parliament)1553705467.0
The details of the new rule are as follows:
1. Banned Items: The following items will be banned in the EU by 2021:
- Single-use plastic cutlery
- Single-use plastic plates
- Plastic straws
- Cotton swabs with plastic sticks
- Plastic balloon sticks
- Oxo-degradable plastics and food containers and expanded polystyrene cups
2. Plastic Bottles: Plastic bottles will need to be made with 25 percent recycled material by 2025 and 30 percent by 2030. EU states will need to collect 90 percent of plastic bottles by 2029.
3. The Polluter Pays: The law will strengthen provisions requiring companies to pay for cleaning up pollution. This will mean requiring cigarette companies to pay for removing cigarette butts and fishing gear manufacturers to pay for removing nets from the sea, CNN explained.
4. Clearer Labeling: Items like cigarette filters, plastic cups, wet wipes and sanitary napkins will be labeled if they contain plastic and the labels will include instructions for disposing of them in an environmentally responsible manner.
The European Commission first introduced the ban in May of 2018 and it was approved by member states in October of that year, according to CNN. The measure passed European Parliament with 560 votes. Thirty-five opposed it and 28 abstained. Only a few formalities now stand between the rule and its publication in the EU rulebook, after which member states will need to act, The Guardian explained.
The European Commission estimates that 80 percent of marine litter is made up of plastic. Belgian member of the European Parliament Frédérique Ries said the measure should save the EU €22 billion (approximately $24 billion), the expected cost of plastic pollution in the block up to 2030.
"Europe now has a legislative model to defend and promote at international level, given the global nature of the issue of marine pollution involving plastics. This is essential for the planet," Ries said in the European Parliament press release.
Plastic Bag Bans Actually Work, Study of European Waters Shows https://t.co/vXW5xjYJkq @GreenpeaceUK @foeeurope— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1523093704.0
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
Green groups applauded Sen. Jeff Merkley on Wednesday for introducing a pioneering pair of bills that aim to "protect the long-term health and well-being of the American people and their economy from the catastrophic effects of climate chaos" by preventing banks and international financial institutions from financing fossil fuels.