Europe Bans Single Use Plastics

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Plastics last a long time before breaking down, which makes them a major problem for the natural environment. This year we’ve seen a big push to ban “single use” plastics due to the environmental damage they bring. Plastic bag bans have been implemented in reasonable places and now the European Union is doing even better: they’re banning the ridiculous use of plastics in consumer goods.

The directive targets some of the most common ocean-polluting plastics.

The list of banned items such as cutlery and cotton buds was chosen because there are readily available alternatives, such as paper straws and cardboard containers.

Other items, “where no alternative exists” will still have to be reduced by 25% in each country by 2025. Examples given include burger boxes and sandwich wrappers.

MEPs also tacked on amendments to the plans for cigarette filters, a plastic pollutant that is common litter on beaches. Cigarette makers will have to reduce the plastic by 50% by 2025 and 80% by 2030.

Another ambitious target is to ensure 90% of all plastic drinks bottles are collected for recycling by 2025. Currently, bottles and their lids account for about 20% of all the sea plastic, the European Parliament report said.

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Shipping Industry Finally Delivers on Climate Change

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When climate conferences occur and parties sign on to legal agreements like the Paris Agreement some industries are excluded. Historically aviation and shipping have been left out from many climate change agreements which has resulted in both industries being behind the times, inefficient, and down right bad for the planet. Already, climate change is harming coastal nations and these coastal nations usually favour shipping. The impact of increasing water levels, storm surges, and more has led to those shipping-friendly nations to better regulate international shipping practices.

The result is a deal that shipping industry will finally address their greenhouse gas emissions by reducing their emissions by 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 levels.

Mr Paul added: “This is history in the making… if a country like the Marshall Islands, a country that is very vulnerable to climate change, and particularly depends on international shipping, can endorse this deal, there is no credible excuse for anybody else to hold back.”

The UK’s shipping minister, Nusrat Ghani, described the agreement as ” a watershed moment with the industry showing it is willing to play its part in protecting the planet”.

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Canada Banning the Capture of Dolphins & Whales

Increased coverage in media about the inhumane treatments of marine animals by entertainment facilities are impacting Canadian laws. Thanks to the efforts of documentarians, like in Blackfish, and concerned citizens Canada is making it illegal to capture dolphins and whales. Criminal code penalties are being considered by the senate to really drive home that Canada thinks this practice is wrong.

“The public acceptance of keeping these majestic creatures in captivity has changed and we think the law should also change to reflect that so we’re going to ban the taking of cetaceans,” Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc told reporters in Vancouver. “We think Canadians massively support that principle.”

There has been no live-capture of cetaceans for captivity in Canada since 1992. In recent years, however, wild-caught beluga whales and bottlenose dolphins have been imported from foreign sources.

The Senate bill would prohibit the import of a cetacean, or the sperm, a tissue culture or an embryo of one of these mammals.

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Obama and Canada Bans New Coastal Oil and Gas Drilling

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Obama is leaving office and he’s clearly worried that the next president will ignore climate change and its effects on humanity. In order to stymie any damage that president Trump can do, Obama has passed a law that effectively bans ocean-based drilling for oil and gas in some areas. In support, Canada has passed a similar law that will ban arctic drilling. With fossil fuels becoming less profitable and alternative source energies getting cheaper the need to drill in precarious places become less tenable.

The ban affects 115 million acres (46.5 million hectares) of federal waters off Alaska in the Chukchi Sea and most of the Beaufort Sea and 3.8 million acres (1.5 million hectares) in the Atlantic from New England to Chesapeake Bay.

The White House and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau jointly announced their move to launch “actions ensuring a strong, sustainable and viable Arctic economy and ecosystem.”

Obama said in a statement that the joint actions “reflect the scientific assessment that, even with the high safety standards that both our countries have put in place, the risks of an oil spill in this region are significant and our ability to clean up from a spill in the region’s harsh conditions is limited.”

Canada will designate all Arctic Canadian waters as indefinitely off limits to future offshore Arctic oil and gas licensing, to be reviewed every five years through a climate and marine science-based life-cycle assessment.

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Britain’s Bag Ban Boasts Big Benefits

England has put a 5p charge on plastic bags last year and it’s already having a huge impact on the environment. The use of disposable bags has decreased 85% since the same time last year! Last year 7 billion bags had been handed out compared to just 500 million so far this year. The Marine Conservation Society’s annual beach cleanup noted that the number of plastic bags found on the shore was done by a third – and that’s after just one year.

The charge has also triggered donations of more than £29m from retailers towards good causes including charities and community groups, according to Defra. England was the last part of the UK to adopt the 5p levy, after successful schemes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Retailers with 250 or more full-time equivalent employees have to charge a minimum of 5p for the bags they provide for shopping in stores and for deliveries, but smaller shops and paper bags are not included. There are also exemptions for some goods, such as raw meat and fish, prescription medicines, seeds and flowers and live fish.

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