European Commission proposes new laws to tackle the most found plastic waste items on European beaches


European Commission proposes new laws to tackle the most found plastic waste items on European beaches


Source: OceanWise Media team

Themes: Circular Economy Policy / Plastics Strategy / Single-use Plastics

Cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws and stirrers made with plastics, food containers and cups for beverages such as those made from expanded polystyrene, and plastic bottles are some of the 10 most found plastic waste items on Europe’s beaches. Those 10 items account for 43% of total marine litter.

In May 2018, the European Commission proposed new laws to tackle this huge problem and also fishing gear, which represents an additional 27% of all marine litter. The new Single Use Plastics Directive will be an integral part of Plastics Strategy and an important element of the Circular Economy Action Plan.

The Commission’s proposal foresees several measures for extended producer responsibility. Member States are advised to establish schemes for nine types of single-use plastic products, namely food containers, cups for beverages, Balloons, packets and wrappers, beverage containers and their caps and lids, tobacco product filters, wet wipes (sanitary items), lightweight plastic carrier bags and fishing gear.

This means that producers of these products shall cover the costs of the collection of waste and its subsequent transport and treatment, including the costs to clean up litter and the costs of the awareness raising measures.

In the specific case of producers of fishing gear containing plastic, Member States should ensure that they cover the costs of the collection of waste fishing gear that has been delivered to adequate port reception facilities and its subsequent transport and treatment.

Also, the proposed measures include a ban on single use cotton buds and also on single use cutlery, plates, straws and stirrers made with plastic, to be replaced with sustainable alternatives.

The industry will also receive incentives to develop less polluting alternatives to those products.

Implementation of this proposal aims to reduce littering by more than half for the ten single use plastic items, avoiding environmental damage which would otherwise amount to €22 billion by 2030.

According to the European Commission, replacing the most common single use plastic items with alternatives which have higher added value can create around 30,000 local jobs. Better-designed and multiple-use products can help to develop innovative business models and systems, such as re-use schemes.

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Using Fungi to Replace Styrofoam


Ikea plans mushroom-based packaging as eco-friendly replacement for polystyrene

24 February 2016
Source: The Telegraph
Themes: Alternative materials

Ikea plans to use packaging made with mushrooms as an eco-friendly replacement for polystyrene, the Swedish retail giant has revealed.

The flat-pack furniture retailer is looking at using the biodegradable “fungi packaging” as part of its efforts to reduce waste and increase recycling, Joanna Yarrow, head of sustainability for Ikea in the UK said.

“We are looking for innovative alternatives to materials, such as replacing our polystyrene packaging with mycelium – fungi packaging,” she said.

Mycelium is the part of a fungus that grows in a mass of branched fibres, attaching to the soil or whatever it is growing on – in effect, mushroom roots.

US firm Ecovative developed the product, which it calls Mushroom Packaging, by letting the mycelium grow around clean agricultural waste, such as corn stalks or husks. example of Mushroom Packaging (photo courtesy of Ecovative)

Over the space of a few days the fungus fibres bind the waste together, forming a solid shape, which is then dried to stop it growing any further.

Ms Yarrow told the Telegraph that Ikea was looking at introducing mycelium packaging because “a lot of products come in polystyrene, traditionally, which can’t be – or is very difficult to – recycle”.

While polystyrene takes thousands of years to decompose, mycelium packaging can be disposed of simply by throwing it in the garden where it will biodegrade naturally within a few weeks.

Speaking at an Aldersgate Group sustainability event in London this week, Ms Yarrow added: “The great thing about mycelium is you can grow it into a mould that then fits exactly. You can create bespoke packaging.”

An Ikea spokesman confirmed it was looking at working with Ecovative, adding: “We always look for new and innovative processes and sustainable materials that can contribute to our commitment.

Ikea recently introduced vegetarian meatballs as part of its efforts to go green. Photo: Ikea

“Mycelium is one of the materials IKEA is looking into, but it is currently not used in production.”

Ecovative, whose founders invented the mushroom-based material in 2006, currently manufactures its packaging in New York. Customers include computer giant Dell, which uses it to cushion large computer servers.

A handful of companies are believed to use the product in the UK.

How the Mushroom Packaging is made

1. Agricultural waste such as corn husks is cleaned.

2. Mycelium is added, and the mixture is left for a few days.

3. Mycelium grows fibres as it reaches out to digest the agricultural waste.

4. Mixture is broken up into loose particles.

5. Particles are put into shaped mould for a few days. Mycelium grows and forms a solid shape.

6. Solid shape is removed and dried to stop growth and prevent production of mushrooms or spores.

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