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

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

Berry's rebranded Blue Clover expands packaging design reach

January 23, 2015 1:59 pm ET

As design director of Berry Plastics Corp.'s rebranded packaging design studio, Scott Fisher believes the new name of Blue Clover Studios cuts the...    More

Plastics executive pleads guilty in federal firearm case

January 23, 2015 12:37 pm ET

Richard Cummings, 43, a former manager at Tri Town Precision Plastics Inc. in Deep River, Conn., has pleaded guilty to violating federal firearms...    More

Image

Mexico's Polymer Solutions looks to grow, expand offerings with name change

January 23, 2015 12:03 pm ET

British biodegradable additives developer Symphony Environmental Technologies plc's Mexico distributor has changed its name from Plásticos...    More

Image

W&H buys bigger stake in BSW

January 23, 2015 10:43 am ET

Windmoeller & Hoelscher KG will get more involved in flexible packaging machinery through its bigger stake in machinery maker BSW Machinery Handels-...    More

Image

Esterform buys Constar UK, doubles PET preform capacity

January 23, 2015 10:07 am ET

Constar UK, once part of global packaging firm Constar International Holdings LLC, has a new owner.    More

Market Reports

Plastics in Automotive: Innovation & Emerging Trends

This special report newly released by PN and sponsored by The Conair Group examines current trends in the use of plastics in automotive, materials innovations and the changing landscape. It includes a review of legislative/regulatory activity impacting vehicle development and lightweighting, market opportunities & challenges for mold and toolmakers, innovative design strategies being implemented by major OEMs and suppliers, as well as a review of key indicators in Canada, Mexico, Brazil and China.

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

Injection Molding Market Analysis & Processor Rankings

Plastics News BUNDLED package contains our in-depth Market Analysis of the Injection Molding segment. You will gain keen insight on current trends and our economic outlook.

As a BONUS this includes PN's updated 2014 database of North American Injection Molders RANKED by sales volume. Sort, merge, mail & prospect by end market, materials processed, region, # of plants and more.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

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

More Events