Melting glaciers, rising sea levels, pollution, and food shortages are all man-made conundrums which have resulted from unsustainable habits. So, yes, humans will be held responsible for solving the crisis.

One of the ways the European Union is tackling climate change is by requiring all plastic packaging in Europe to be reusable or recyclable by 2030. As a result, all single-use plastic (including disposable utensils and coffee cups) will be completely phased out. The funds that are freed from this initiative will be used to research and develop innovative plastic alternatives and designs. 

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The ambitious campaign was launched to rid the continent of the damaging plastics which are choking rivers, contaminating oceans, and harming wildlife. According to The Guardian, the EU Commission will make the commitments legally binding by parliament and its member states by May this year,

The notable development comes shortly after China declared it will ban imports of foreign recyclable material. As IFLScience reports, the news left many Western nations with growing fears that plastic waste (which would normally be exported and recycled) will pile up in landfills and eventually be buried. Because such would be a detriment to the environment, the EU has outlined several ways to tackle this problem.

One of the major parts of the strategy is to look into the possibility of taxing single-use plastics. “Let’s study this,” Frans Timmermans, the vice-president of the EU Commission, said. The former Dutch diplomat told the press,

“In a perfect world the revenues of this tax will decrease very rapidly, we have to check in an impact assessment whether this is a sustainable form of income also for the EU’s finances. I think there is a lot of support out there.”

The EU aims for 55 percent of all plastic to be recycled by 2030. It also plans for member states to reduce the use of bags per person from 90 a year to 40 by 2026. Not only that, the EU will also be providing a €100 million fund for research to look into better designs, recyclability, and durability of plastic products. Some of these funds will also be used to promote access to clean drinking water and, as a result, cut down on plastic bottle waste. Finally, the EU is considering a ban on the production and use of microbes in cosmetic products across the continent. Though details on how all of this will be achieved are lacking, politicians are adamant that all will be achieved. They say the subject matter is one the EU is taking very seriously.

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Timmermans commented on the necessity to act, saying:

“If we don’t do anything about this, 50 years down the road we will have more plastic than fish in the oceans … we have all the seen the images, whether you watch [the BBC’s] Blue Planet, whether you watch the beaches in Asian countries after storms.”

“If children knew what the effects are of using single-use plastic straws for drinking sodas, or whatever, they might reconsider and use paper straws or no straws at all,” he added.

“We are going to choke on plastic if we don’t do anything about this. How many millions of straws do we use every day across Europe? I would have people not use plastic straws any more. It only took me once to explain to my children. And now … they go looking for paper straws, or don’t use straws at all. It is an issue of mentality.”

Timmermans concluded, “[One] of the challenges we face is to explain to consumers that arguably some of the options in terms of the colour of bottles you can buy will be more limited than before. But I am sure that if people understand that you can’t buy that lively green bottle, it will have a different colour, but it can be recycled, people will buy into this.”

Though the outlined plan is far from perfect, it does show that tolerance toward plastic waste and unsustainable habits are shifting. Consumers are no longer the only ones fighting for change; now, politicians, governments, and industry are all waking up and taking action — hopefully, before it is too late.

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h/t The Guardian, IFLScience