Islands of plastic in the oceans and a Chinese import ban on waste are forcing Europe to take action. The EU Commission has raised the possibility of a plastic tax to limit the use of the ubiquitous material. Not all commentators agree that this is the right step.
Plastic tax is a good idea
Der Tagesspiegel welcomes the prospect of a plastic tax:
“The problem of plastic waste is so monstrous that it unquestionably warrants political intervention. And the problem only stands to get worse now that China has stopped accepting Europe's waste. ... Cheap plastic has long since become a scourge. It forms huge islands in the oceans and inflicts agonizing deaths on sea creatures. The only solution is to use every means at our disposal to avoid creating plastic waste and to recycle what already exists far more effectively than we have done in the past. There are already cafés that give discounts to customers who bring their own cups. At the same time the EU woudl do well to impose a tax on plastic-wrapped tomatoes and other products.”
Pacific full of waste from China's new prosperity
No matter how many measures against plastic are taken in Europe they will be useless unless things change elsewhere too, Corriere della Sera points out:
“China remains the biggest problem. Ten years ago Beijing tried to ban plastic bags. But the stores simply ignored the ban. The lightning speed at which the economy has developed in recent years was the final blow for the environment. Food delivery services alone, which are extremely popular, with up to 20 million orders per day being placed in the cities, result in 60 million plastic packages daily being thrown away without being recycled. China's rivers are full of rubbish that pours into the Pacific. Beijing is now considering drastic measures and has banned imports of rubbish to focus on disposing its own waste. But it may already be too late for this measure.”