Academic urges European ban on single-use bags

Hamish Champ
PRW

Published: February 21, 2014 12:05 pm ET
Updated: February 21, 2014 12:09 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Public Policy, Sustainability, Europe, Packaging, Extrusion, Film & Sheet

A United Kingdom academic has called on the European Parliament to tackle single-use plastic bags in order to focus consumers' minds on the 'throw away society' and change their behavior.

Speaking this week at a conference in Brussels organized by European Green MPs and the European Free Alliance party, Richard Thompson, a professor at the University of Plymouth's School of Marine Science and Engineering, said single-use plastic bags were "the epitome of our disposable, single-use society" and Europe could start addressing the problem with legislation on single-trip plastic bags.

"This would force people to look at what they take home with them. Yes, the actual tonnage [of plastic material used] is small, but it would help society focus on the issue," he added. Thompson did not say in his address what action he would like to see over the issue.

However, despite his call for legislation on single-use plastic bags Thompson said he recognized there were benefits to plastics in many walks of life and crucially in its "inherent recyclability."

"Plastic is the ideal candidate in a circular economy," he said, arguing that waste plastic should be seen as a resource.

"We have had almost 60 years of the 'throw away' culture and 30 percent of what gets thrown away is made of plastic. We need to keep the positives [of plastics] without the debris."

Touching on biodegradable plastics, Thompson said that while on the face of it such material might stem from other natural sources the end result was the same: "They don't solve waste management issues and they don't stop waste accumulating in landfill or in the environment."

Only by capturing these materials once their useful lives had ended would these problems be solved, he argued.

Thompson also showed the conference a see-through plastic bag containing the small debris of a degradable plastic bag which had been in his possession for 10 years.

"Some of these degradable plastics break down rapidly, but lots don't. All we achieve here is a 'techno-fix', where material is allowed to rot in the environment.

"What needs to happen is for consumers to get better information on recyclability of the plastics they use, as well as better design in plastics so the resource can be used again."

At the same conference Ton Emans, president of Brussels-based trade body Plastics Recyclers Europe, said: "The future is about developing quality plastics recyclates for producing new goods and not about down-cycling and misleading the consumer about biodegradability and or the compostability of products in the environment, including the marine environment."

Emans also claimed that as little as 2 percent of degradable material in the recycling stream "created quality problems for recyclers."


Comments

Academic urges European ban on single-use bags

Hamish Champ
PRW

Published: February 21, 2014 12:05 pm ET
Updated: February 21, 2014 12:09 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Huhtamäki selling film division

November 26, 2014 2:10 pm ET

Private equity firm Deutsche Beteiligungs AG (DBAG) will acquire the film business of Finland-based plastics packaging group Huhtamäki Oyj for 141...    More

Image

SPI hopes to build on EPS recycling

November 26, 2014 6:00 am ET

Successfully recycling expanded polystyrene can be a challenge, there's no doubt about that. EPS, however, has value, is in demand and deserves to be ...    More

Image

Pan-European plastics recycling show scheduled for 2015

November 26, 2014 6:00 am ET

Europe is to get its first pan-European exhibition and conference aimed at the region's plastics recycling industry next year.    More

Image

Irish packaging group Smurfit Kappa opens film plant in Spain

November 26, 2014 6:00 am ET

Global packaging group Smurfit Kappa Group plc has responded to growing demand for its bag-in-box liquid container/dispensers by opening a new plant...    More

Image

Deal adds U.K. plant to DelStar

November 25, 2014 12:47 pm ET

Schweitzer-Mauduit International Inc. (SWM) is acquiring certain assets from the advanced wound management division of London-based Smith & Nephew plc...    More

Market Reports

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 billion plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

October 27, 2015 - October 29, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - New York - 2015

More Events