Europe Strategy Environment


EU ambiente e strategie

Author: Matteo Aristei
2019, July 4th

In numerous bars, new environmental initiatives and projects about plastic straw are becoming more popular . Yes, sometime parents come and ask for a straw for their children ’s juice but unfortunately they can ’t have it . This because in numerous bars straws are banned . They are not accepted any more because they are one of the plastic objects most used in the world which, for their small size, cannot be recycled .

Actually this campaign against the use of straws was not invented in these bars, but the first campaign was launched by the United Kingdom and it’s called ‘ the last straw ’. Similar initiatives have spread ever more and everywhere in Europe and several pubs have took part in this British initiative and they commit not to use straws any longer . Of course not immediately, because throwing away all the straws in their storage will cause an environmental impact .

So, as first step, they have decided to not automatically put the straw into drinks for costumers any more because a good cocktail doesn ’t depend on the straw, but on the ingredients ’ quality . Then, after that all the straws in the storage are finished , plastic straws will be replaced by other type straws such as bioplastic, made by corn starch, or steel straws which can be re – used . Of course these straws are more expensive but less straws will be used .

After these straws, disposable plastic dishes and cups are used one time and then are thrown away . They take hundred years to biodegrade and often they end up in the see where they kill even cetacean and turtles and they arrive in our food chain because they are absorbed by the fishes we eat . In fact, fro 2021 in the European Union some disposable plastic products such as cups or straws will be banned . This is a plastic – free policy was given by a very large majority vote in the European Parliament to the new directive which also imposes other objectives for the future .

Among these, the achievement by 2029 of 90 % of separate waste collection for bottles and new indications on their composition : by 2025 they must be made with at least 25 % of recycled content, to reach 30 % five years later . From 2024 on the other hand, the obligation to have the cap attached to the bottle will be introduced to prevent it from dispersing easily . How will we do it? We will find alternatives, which already exist . Others will be added : new biodegradable materials are already being studied and one day will enter our daily use just as it happened with plastic .

Plastic capsules are certainly the most polluting and difficult product to dispose of . If you have this type at home, you know that the part that contains the coffee is made of plastic, but the tongue is made of aluminum, so it would be normal to throw them without thoughts into undifferentiated waste, but if you keep the environment you should do more : remove the tab and throw it into the appropriate aluminum collection container, rinse the plastic cup well so that the coffee residues inside it are eliminated and throw it in the plastic bin .

Furthermore, recently there has been an increase in the use of mobile phones . Nowadays people change cell phones very often, but then what happens to old cell phones ? What impact do they have on the environment ? In one study, 19 models of mobile phones were examined from the point of view of the possibility of being recycled . From the results of the study it is evident that many companies in the sector do not consider the ease of recycling as an important feature of their products at all . And this is serious if we consider that only in Italy 17 million mobile phones are sold each year .

And this is because there is a frantic race to the most popular model of the moment . And so many devices, after an average life of 18 months, become difficult to recycle . To be able to recycle the various parts of the mobile phone, these should first be easily disassembled, i.e. held together by interlocking and not by glue or screws . But unfortunately this occurs only in 50 % of cases. Other times it is the intrinsic nature of the materials that prevents them from being recycled .

Sometimes we are guilty because we throw away our mobile phone instead of bring it in ecological areas made by Sanitation or, when it is possible, give It back to the shop where whe buy a new mobile phone .

In addition to the problem of mobile phone disposal, there is also the packaging disposal which often has an environmental impact . It would be great if in a future, packaging will be made by recyclable materials .

Still in the interests of the environment, companies should sell accessories separately . In this way only those that are really needed are bought . And then they should make accessories usable on all models . It is also a good idea to use two SIM cards at the same time to avoid buying a second mobile phone . Many people in fact have two or three mobile phones for various reasons ; to be able, for example, to have different numbers, perhaps a private one for work, to take advantage of the best offers from the various managers or even to avoid the risk of not being able to be traced in case of low battery . In short, there is really a lot to do to reduce the environmental impact of mobile phones that have now become consumer goods .

Raising public awareness and encouraging them spontaneously to refuse the straw is another very important task because these small changes can actually already do a lot to reduce the amount of plastic we produce every day and it is important that everyone does their part .