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

DC banning PS foam containers

July 30, 2014 2:34 pm ET

Washington D.C. Mayor Vincent Gra signed into law on July 29 a bill that will ban polystyrene foam food and drink containers from the District.    More

Image

Pressure is on to replace aging gas pipes

July 30, 2014 2:47 pm ET

Polyethylene is the plastic replacement material of choice for modernizing the natural gas distribution system — so much so some are concerned...    More

Image

Sainsbury, Schoeller Allibert to recycle food handling crates

July 30, 2014 1:37 pm ET

British retail group Sainsbury's has contracted Dutch recycler Schoeller Allibert BV to reprocess all of its old food crates back into food-grade...    More

Image

Styrolution will open new production late 2014

July 30, 2014 12:54 pm ET

Germany-based styrenic materials group, Styrolution, has announced it is expanding its facility in Ludwigshafen, Germany.    More

Image

Bankruptcy court confirms GSE reorganization plan

July 29, 2014 4:01 pm ET

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., has confirmed the reorganization plan for geomembranes maker GSE Environmental Inc.    More

Market Reports

Plastics Recyclers Data Report & Directory

This exclusive MS Excel database contains all the companies from Plastics News' ranking of top North American Recyclers and Brokers by reprocessed volume and also includes a directory with materials processes, services offered and company contact information. Data is based on primary research by PN editorial staff.

Learn more

2014 Injection Molding Industry Report

GROWTH, OPPORTUNITY IN SIGHT FOR INJECTION MOLDERS IN 2014

In the wake of the economic turbulence earlier in this decade, molders today find themselves in much better shape. Molders are gaining a competitive advantage by investing in people, equipment and seeking inroads into new markets on a global scale.

Growth in the injection molding industry is going to be driven by low financing costs and a continued move to reshore some business.

Learn more

Shale Gas Market - Analysis of North American Region

This report highlights the impact of shale-based natural gas on the North American plastics market and features an in-depth analysis of production trends in the United States during 2013 and a forecast for 2014 and beyond.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

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

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

More Events