Plastic waste: Are Brussels' ideas any good?
The EU Commission plans to tackle the plastic waste problem. Disposable products like plastic tableware, straws and cotton buds for which alternatives out of other materials exist are to be banned. Manufacturers of plastic products are also to be made to pay for their disposal and new subsidies will be introduced for recycling. This is a good initiative but it doesn't go far enough, according to press commentaries.
Recycling mustn't be neglected
Dagens Nyheter welcomes Brussels' plans but also warns that recycling must be improved:
“It's correct to focus on such products as the CFC propellants and to ban them, even though the problem will hardly be resolved in this way. Even disposable products are resources. Therefore what's needed is more recycling. Last year a deposit was introduced for more than 20,000 tonnes of PET plastics in Sweden. ... Now juice packaging is being targeted - in the long term even more packaging is to be integrated into the system. Plastic is often a good thing. It won't disappear everywhere. But too much of a good thing must not be allowed to ruin our oceans.”
Consumers also bear responsibility
Etelä-Saimaa agrees that banning plastic is not the ideal solution:
“Despite its drawbacks, plastic is also an excellent raw material due to its hygienic qualities, and it's hard to imagine that it will be completely banned - at least in the near future. Quite apart from bans, what's needed is a functional recycling and collection system that recognises different types of plastic and allows them to be reused. And consumers, too, must behave more responsibly. Plastic waste doesn't end up in nature if no one puts it there.”
EU packaging requirements part of the problem
A ban on disposable plastic products can only be a first step, the daily Die Welt admonishes:
“Bans on their own tackle the root of the problem just as little as moral appeals do. A mixture of measures is needed: the abolishing of subsidies for the oil used to produce plastics, as well as deposit systems and cutback targets for industry. The plastic tax planned by Brussels could also be used solely for developing new materials. But the number one objective must be to cut down on waste, massively. To this end the EU taking a closer look at its own regulations for manufacturers and retailers could be helpful. Some of the packaging requirements for alleged security or hygiene reasons are no doubt completely unnecessary.”
Finland offers alternatives to plastic
Kainuun Sanomat sees a major opportunity for Finland's economy:
“The world is full of unnecessary things made of plastic that could be produced using more sustainable materials or not made at all. ... The plastic problem is global - but this doesn't release individuals from their responsibility. It's a problem that each person can influence through their decisions. The use of plastic won't be stopped completely but recycling processes can be improved. Innovations that stop plastic getting into the environment are needed. The draft guideline opens up new markets for Finnish wood-based products like eco packaging.”