We have finally arrived at 1 January 2019, the date from which the prohibition to produce and sell cotton swabs with non-biodegradable plastic sticks.
The cotton buds on the market will now only have a biodegradable and compostable plastic stick.
The measure comes into force in Italy thanks to one of the laws in favor of the environment approved in 2017 by the Gentiloni government, anticipating the prohibition foreseen for 2021 by the European directive which also contains other measures to combat the use of single-use plastic.
The European directive in fact provides that starting from 2021 the sale of cotton buds will be prohibited in the EU Member States, plastic tableware, straws and stirrers for drinks and plastic sticks for helium inflated balloons.
These products can be replaced with others made of biodegradable material so as not to endanger the environment. In fact, these are products that, after being used, end up in our seas, polluting them and endangering the life of many marine animal species which, by swallowing them, risk suffocation.
The data provided last year by Legambiente on the polluting potential of cotton buds was impressive: over 90% of the waste identified on 46 monitored beaches in our country was made up of the sticks used to clean the ears!
Another provision of the new directive concerns all beverage containers of plastic which will only be legal if the caps cannot be physically detached from the container itself.
Another important measure provides for the contribution to waste management costs by the manufacturers of cigarettes, balloons and fishing gear made of plastic.
We will also intervene on product labeling with the obligation to highlight the potential negative effect on the environment on the packaging of all products made of plastic and derivatives.
Further production reduction targets will also be envisaged for rigid food containers and disposable cups. The measures to discourage the use of disposable products will include a ban on offering them for free.
They will be incentives for products made with recyclable materials and there must be bonus systems on the bail-deposit logic for single-use plastic products, such as plastic bottles.
To make us aware of the pollutant factor of single-use plastics, the vice president of the European commission, Frans Timmermans, reminds us that single-use plastic products take only 5 seconds to produce, are used for 5 minutes and require 500 years to be decomposed naturally by the environment!
In recent months I had published an article about a Sky initiative to raise public awareness on the importance of minimizing the use of disposable plastics, here is the video I shot at the installation created by Sky for the occasion explaining how the plastic waste collected to carry out the installation had been “assembled” in 10 days of work but that it would take 500 years to dispose of it at the sea!
Currently, citizens of the European Union generate 25 million tons of plastic waste every year, but only 30% of this immense volume is collected and recycled correctly.
There is a lot of work to be done but if action is not taken soon the prospects are really sad!
Additional measures that will have to be worked on will be those aimed at promoting the use of tap water and spreading free public water dispensers on our streets.
On this issue I am happy that, albeit with "some hitch", the project of "Houses of water”Installed in various streets of Milan to offer citizens free still and sparkling water!
The last was installed in Largo Tel Aviv, just a few hundred meters from our headquarters IdeeGreen Srl Benefit Company but many others are present and functioning in other areas of Milan.
This is the right path and the duty of citizens, municipalities and states is to join efforts to return our seas and our environment to their former glory, guaranteeing the benefits to future generations.
Water House in via Menotti Serrati
Furthermore, from January 2020, again thanks to the latest Gentiloni budget law, the call for microplastics present in rinsing cosmetic products with exfoliating or cleansing action will be launched.
Microplastics as you can guess from the name are tiny grains of plastic present in various cosmetic products that when they end up in our rivers and therefore in our seas put at risk the life of the peach trees that ingest them and consequently also our health, risking to end up on the our tables.