Molly has called for the urgent phasing out of all unnecessary single use plastic. The call comes as China is set to stop accepting hundreds of thousands of tonnes of plastic packaging intended for recycling and public outcry created by the BBC’s popular Blue Planet 2 series over plastic pollution affecting our seas and coasts.  

Molly says a ban is particularly crucial for the South West which has the longest coastline of all English regions, totalling 630 miles. She has written to the European Commission demanding it play a leading role in tackling a problem that ‘is choking our oceans’ [1].

Molly said:

“Plastic waste is growing year on year and becoming harder and harder to deal with. This menace will not simply rot away; we must dispose of single use plastics.

“With the amount of plastic in our seas set to outweigh fish by 2050, it is critical that we get a grip on this problem choking our seas. We must take drastic action to protect our iconic coastline and important sea life.”

The European Commission has an important role to play by supporting EU countries to handle more of their plastic waste domestically instead of exporting the problem to other countries. It can also incentivise moves towards a circular economy where recycling and re-using become the norm. But we also need to see Commission honour the wishes of the European Parliament who want all harmful and single use plastics phased out.”

Molly accused the UK government of ignoring the problem; environment secretary, Michael Gove confessed to MPs recently that he had ‘not given sufficient thought’ to the problem of plastic waste. She said:

“Michael Gove has pledged action on ocean plastics but doesn’t seem to have a clue how we are going to deal with the thousands of tonnes of plastic waste currently exported to China – a market that will soon be closed to us. I am glad Blue Planet 2 has moved him, but we need green actions to deal with the issue. Rapidly phasing out and then banning unnecessary single use plastic will go a long way to getting this problem wrapped.”

Green Party members supported a motion calling for a ban on all unnecessary single use plastics at their conference in October [5].

Notes

[1] Written question to the European Commission:

A recent UN resolution to stop plastic waste from entering the oceans is progressive, but unfortunately is not binding. The EU has an opportunity to play the leading role in tackling this problem that is choking our oceans.

While EU legislation stipulates that all exported plastics must be recycled to EU standards, a lack of transparency and accountability in receiving countries means that much of it ends up in landfills or our oceans.

Additionally, with the decision by China to stop receiving domestic waste imports from January 2018, many countries are now going to have to find alternative ways to tackle the plastic waste they have traditionally exported.

Will the Commission explain how they intend to support EU countries to handle more of their plastic waste domestically instead of relying on exporting the problem to other countries?

  1. Will the Commission explain how they intend to support EU countries to handle more of their plastic waste domestically instead of relying on exporting the problem to other countries?
  2. How does the Commission intend to incentivise the move to a circular economy and, in particular, the recycling and re-use of lower grades of plastic waste? 
  3. Will the Commission indicate whether they intend to honour the wishes of the European Parliament who voted in 2014 to remove all harmful plastics from the market and phase out single use plastics?
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