Reduction of single-use plastic paramount to tackling plastic pollution

FoE Malta submits recommendations on single use plastics

Friends of the Earth Malta (FoE Malta) welcomes the publication of the Proposal for a Directive on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment by the European Commission. It is designed to prevent and reduce the impact of certain plastic products on the environment, in particular the marine environment, and sets a number of different policy measures to tackle these problematic single-use products, from bans and reduction efforts, to labelling and extended producer responsibility schemes.

However, FoE Malta believes that there is room for improvement and has made its recommendations as part of the consultation process.

FoE Malta believes that it is of paramount importance that the production of single-use plastic is reduced and reused first. Malta and other EU countries have to ensure the prevention and reduction of single-use plastics while incentivising reusable alternatives are prioritised, in line with the waste hierarchy. This can be done through various policy measures such as obliging food and drink outlets to use reusable tableware for in-store consumption. Member States should prohibit the organised, intentional release of balloons into the atmosphere at events. Many local authorities and state-level bans have been enacted globally to prevent mass balloon releases to the environment.

FoE Malta supports the consumption reduction on food containers and beverage cups but believes there need to be specific EU wide targets. Reduction targets should be established for the products listed as food containers and cups for beverages, namely a 50% reduction by 2025 and an 80% reduction by 2030.

On the other hand FoE Malta warns that the authorities should not fall for bio-based or biodegradable plastics: Avoid the substitution of single-use plastics by bio-based and/or biodegradable single-use plastics which are still detrimental to the environment, and ensure that if biodegradable plastics are used, they are accurately labelled to indicate to the consumer where they can be composted since most require an industrial composter and cannot be disposed of in the typical compost bin at homes and gardens.

For the last three decades, FoE Malta had been sounding the alarm bells that if waste reduction is not taken seriously Malta will end up in a position to have to take unpalatable decisions about its waste management strategy. We have now come to that stage where the situation is critical and tough policies and regulations need to be enacted especially when it comes to single use plastics.

1A copy of the recommendations can also be downloaded from here