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'Significant First Blow to Plastic Pollution Monster' as EU Reaches Landmark Deal on Single-Use Products


'Significant First Blow to Plastic Pollution Monster' as EU Reaches Landmark Deal on Single-Use Products

Jessica Corbett, staff writer

In a landmark deal celebrated by campaigners as "a significant first blow to the plastic pollution monster," the European Union (EU) on Wednesday reached an agreement to dramatically scale back single-use plastics across the continent.


This helps to show that Governmnet regulations are needed to help change behaviour. The Industries will not “Regulate themselves”. Relax regulations and they will push the boundaries of what they can do. This not true just with Environmental issues either. The banking systems , the electircal sysems, car manufacturers labor laws and everything else needs to have rules and regulations (what the "free market crowd calls red tape and job killers ") IMPOSED on them.


"One word: Plastics."
(The Graduate, 1967)

Just came to mind when I read this article. And here’s a little more depth to my sarcastic comment.


Meanwhile, in my area, there are deep cuts to recycling starting next year, only certain containers made of PETE or HDPE, no glass (and Pennsylvania is not among that handful of bottle-deposit states). The trash companies will “fine” our local government $150 per ton for materials with more than a small amount of these "contaminants.

The stated reason for this is that “there is no market for these materials”. Well, there is “no market” for a lot of vitally worthwhile things - like the survival of life on earth! Fuck capitalism and it’s “markets”!

Yet Europe is a capitalist “free market” economy too. So how do they manage to do these things? Why don’t their corporations sue the governments or go into open revolt and sweep in a right-wing business friendly government by hook-or-crook. That is what would happen here in the USA (and most of the Americas except, just maybe, Canada) if any country tried anything like this EU plastics measure.


One reason for those changes in Pennsylvania is that China refuses to accept anymore junk from The USA for recycling. That stuff used to be loaded up on ships and dumped in China.


Yunz, Europe does it by keeping the things we in the US stopped doing decades ago for “convenience”. Attended a week of meetings for my company in Germany in 2016 and was surprised that the conference was held in a non-air conditioned building, the beverages were in non-disposable 1 liter glass bottles and real glasses for each conference goer to use. Beverages were pre-chilled but no ice was served. Contrast this to a typical meeting / conference in the US - disposable plastic cups, available beverages in plastic 1-use bottles or aluminum cans with ice in a usually over air conditioned conference room. Oh yeah, in Germany, for snacks - they are served on non-disposable platters and real dishes. Me in my '60’s, I recall only non-disposable bottles for beverages (including beer) with bottle return a big part of the grocery store. Find me a glass bottle for deposit today in the US - you can’t, even in the states like Michigan with a steep per can/bottle recycling charge.


As an attempt at some balance to my recent pessimistically snide comments on CD, I’ll play the optimist for a bit here . . .

I believe we are capable of coming up with positive solutions to ‘problems’, such as single-use plactics. They may be rudimentary, such as paper straws instead of plastic ones. I remember using paper straws when I was a kid.

I happen to live in a community that banned plastic shopping bags. Everyone brings their own reusable cloth bags, or purchases paper ones for five cents each. It doesn’t take much effort, and the cloth bags are more durable anyway, and are often quite decorative. It’s just a matter of perspective.

But the faith, if you can call it that, which I have in current and future generations is that they can, and will, invent and create the sorts of components to our daily lives that will seem ‘duh!’ simple, once they’ve shown them to us.

If nothing else, there are obviously segments of the global community which are willing to approach things differently, to change behaviors and practices, to shift their perspective, and that should encourage us to do more . . . or, conversely, in this particular instance, do less.


Up until about 2010, a good number of local breweries in my area - including Iron City offered their beer in refillable deposit bottles - now only one, Straub, St. Mary’s, PA, does.

And this thing with putting ice put in water, like its archaic units of measure to absurdly oversized food portions, is a peculiarly American thing that really annoys visitors from just about anywhere to the US. You should have seen the struggle I had with getting a waitress to understand that I wanted no ice in my water just an hour ago.

And it is not “convenience”. US capitalist interests finely tune USAn culture, taste’s and preferences around maximizing the exploitation of resources and thereby profit - especially in fossil fuels. It takes a lot of coal and natural gas to make that ice that goes in all those glasses of water. Many of those tastes ands preferences for “convenience” are actually LESS convenient than the alternatives - the biggest one being the personal automobile in all but rural environments. Public transportation could easily be made more convenient - and far, far cheaper, than the personal car.

The reason that can do these things in Europe is that somehow, the democratic governments have been able to maintain an understanding with even the most powerful corporations as to “who is boss”. In the EU, the People - through their far better-functioning-than-the-US representative governments - up to and including the European parliament still have the upper hand over capitalist interests. So, when so many people on the left hopped on the Brexit bandwagon, I could only shake my head (I’ve ben shaking my head at the left a lot lately). Didn’t they know that the whole point of Brexit was so the UK could toss all its EU-mandated labor and environmental regulations and public welfare programs and become like the USA?


We have been bringing our cloth, reusable grocery bags for years. The sad thing is that we always are complimented for doing so. That wouldn’t be the case if it was a more popular thing to do. It should be the norm not a rare event. It would only take a little bit of public address time to warm up the communities to this paper and plastic saving practice.


Yes. And the carbon footprint of hauling all that stuff to China kind of negates the benefit of recycling. I’m not sure all recyclables went to China. There is high local demand for steel and aluminum cans and corrugated cardboard. Most HDPE and PET are not really recycled - only “mono-cycled” - they go to make carpeting, faux-wood picnic table and park bench planks and flowerpots and toys - which, in turn, are not recyclable.

BTW, how does BC handle recycling - notably glass bottles? Do beverage bottles have a deposit? And were does Canada’s recyclable glass go?


Interesting that you are complemented for it. Except for the Food Co-Op, the checkout people give me dirty looks when I ask them to put the groceries in my cloth bags - because the whole checkout system - with those wire bag-holder-openers and bag carousels, are built around those plastic bags which with all the unnecessary double bagging, and only a couple items per bag, one would think that the store pays the checkout people a big bonus for each bag they use. It is ridiculous.


Good on you Yunzer for saving a tree here and there, keeping a few gallons of oil in the ground, and saving space in your local landfill for non-recyclables. We will try to help save the world one cloth bag at a time. Sounds melodramatic, but it’s real.
I’ve seen those carousels at Walmart, but they were happy to stuff our cloth bags. We just have to educate, one by one.


Vancouver is considered one of the greener cities in North America. The City does recycle a lot of stuff and outside my apartment are bins into which we sort stuff for recycling. The Garbage bin that sees stuff go to landfill takes weeks for the complex to fill.

Within a few blocks of me is a place to drop electronics and household goods for recycling and a few more blocks a place that will take most anything from cooking oil to paint and from drywall to glass. All glass bottles have a refundable deposit and are recycled locally. There a pile of people that make a living going through bins to collect bottles and cans to turn in for recycling. I have one older Chinese Gentleman that comes through weekly and I give what I have to him.

MOST of the recycled stuff is done locally but a good portion of it was going to China.

What frustrates me is even with all of these places to recycle stuff I still see people that are too lazy to bother.

This i done at the Municipal level. At the Provincial and Federal level far more can be done such as what the EU has done like mandating multiple uses for plastics.



That’s a major issue not just being lazy but too stupid to figure out the difference between metal, glass and plastic. I’m not saying that derogatorily but rather as a sad, depressing fact. My dad tried to set up different bins to separate stuff for recycling but his wife couldn’t figure out the difference between stuff and would randomly throw it all together. He’s lucky if she even bothers to put the trash in a bin.


Recycling at public cost is a license to pollute. Make polluters pay.