The World Environment Day focuses this 2018 on the fight against the dumping of plastics to the oceans, which receive 8 tons of waste of this type each year.
Plastic is one of the main detractors of nature in the 21st century. The overuse of this material is difficult to degrade, a plastic bottle takes half an average of 500 years to decompose, it is already a real problem also for the oceans. Here, the appearance of plastic products in water, especially bags, is causing serious problems for marine species that can lead to death.
The famous image of a turtle tangled in a ball of plastic, winner of the 2017 edition of the World Press Photo or seahorse carrying a stick, finalist of the same year in the ‘Wildlife Photographer of the year’, have been two graphics screams that aim to draw attention to what is happening underwater. Plastic bags and spills are trapping and drowning marine species; and also the decomposition of this product in the water is provacando its absorption, generating a contamination that can reach humans through the food chain.
Each year, according to the UN, the oceans receive between 8 and 13 million tons of plastic, which threatens marine and human life, and destroys natural ecosystems. A scourge that is intended to be fought from different areas, and to which the United Nations has devoted its efforts focusing on World Environment Day that is celebrated this Tuesday, June 5.
Each year 500 billion light plastic bags are consumed worldwide
Under the slogan ‘ No Pollution By Plastic ‘ the UN calls on the responsible use of products made with this material and calls for the reuse of the objects manufactured with it, putting among other products, the focus on the bags of plastic, an almost ubiquitous article that uses 500 billion copies every year in the world, and of which a billion units are manufactured.
The road to a vital problem
Polyethylene, the most common plastic, was created by accident in 1933 at a chemical plant in Northwich, England. Since then, the single-use products manufactured with this material have been increasing, from the use of plastic as a residual element basically applied to the military field until its global application and practically generalized in all areas.
1965 – The plastic bag is patented. The Swedish company Geoplast patents the design of the one-piece polyethylene bag of engineer Sten Gustaf Thulin, and its revolutionary invention begins to quickly replace the traditional cloth bag throughout Europe.
1979 – With 80% of the stock market in Europe controlled, the product makes the leap to the rest of the world and is widely introduced in the United States. At this time, the marketing campaigns of the marketing companies present plastic bags as a superior product to paper and reusable bags.
1982 – Two of the most important supermarket chains in the USA at that time, Safeway and Kroger, are changed to plastic bags opening the way to many more businesses that finally follow their example. At the end of the 1980s, the plastic bag had already replaced the paper bag all over the world.
1997 – The researcher Charles Moore discovers the ‘great garbage patch of the Pacific’. It is a large accumulation of plastic debris that threatens marine life and is highly dangerous for turtles, which confuse the plastic bags under the sea with pouches and eat them.
2002 – The war against the stock markets begins. Bangladesh is the first country in the world to ban the marketing of thin plastic bags after discovering that this product was one of the main culprits of the obstruction of drainage systems during major floods.
2011 – The consumption of plastic bags is growing and it reaches one million per minute in the whole world.
2015 – The European Union approves a regulation in favour of reducing the consumption of light plastic bags that includes that at the latest on December 31, 2018, light plastic bags will not be delivered free of charge at merchandise or product outlets.
2017 – Kenya prohibits plastic bags with strict regulation and more than a dozen countries add to the attempt to reduce the use of this product.
2018 – Although most supermarkets in Spain had already started charging for light plastic bags, as of July 1, they must be obliged by law(except in the case of very light and thick recycled ones) and from 2021 light and very light bags manufactured with this material except for compostable ones will be prohibited. In addition, starting in 2020, the thick bags must contain at least 5’0% of recycled plastic and those of fragmentable plastic will be prohibited.
War against the ‘use and throw’
The European Union has declared war on plastic. The last proposal in favour of the environment supported by the European Commission is to prohibit some plastic products that have an easily available and assessable alternative. With it, they would stop commercializing the classic mats for the ears, the dishes and cutlery of this material, the drink agitators, the sticks for the plastic balloons and the straws. In addition, beverages sold in single-use containers may only be made of plastic if the caps or caps that are used remain attached to the rest of the container. Companies must also contribute their share. The measures presented by the European Commission also contemplate that companies take an active role in raising awareness against the pollution generated by plastic waste. In fact, it is established that producers should be the ones who contribute by taking charge of the costs of management and cleaning of the products as well as those who contribute to the reduction of environmental impact by launching awareness campaigns.
According to Union data, if the waste generated by the top 10 disposable products is used up or its use is reduced, we will be able to eliminate up to 70% of the garbage that is most frequently found on beaches and beaches. European seas.
Source: El Confidencial