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European countries ramp up battle against plastic waste

Image: Bo Eide / Flickr
Image: Bo Eide / Flickr

Plastic waste is under scrutiny this week, as the UK Environmental Audit launches an inquiry into the impact of waste from coffee cups and packaging, and Belgium and France join the United Nations’ campaign to ban micro-plastics.

The UK Environmental Audit Committee launched an inquiry this week into the environmental impact of plastic waste, looking at what actions are being undertaken by industry and government, and to investigate possible solutions, according to UK Parliament news.

Meanwhile Belgium and France join Costa Rica, Grenada, Indonesia, Norway, Panama, Saint Lucia, Sierra Leone and Uruguay in the UN campaign to rid the sea of micro-plastics by 2022, according to EurActiv.com.

The UN campaign urges governments to pass plastic reduction policies with industries to minimise plastic packaging and redesign products. The campaign is also calling on consumers to change their daily habits.

Micro-plastics, tiny pieces of plastic less than 5mm and the result of the deterioration of larger waste, are ingested by marine animals and birds, which mistake it for plankton food sources. Particles accumulate throughout the food chain and can reach humans.

According to the Royal Society of Chemistry, micro-plastic particles can also act as carriers by adsorbing and concentrating chemicals present in the environment that are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic, known as PBT compounds.

Concerns around seafood, including mussel production in the Netherlands, have led European countries including Sweden and Austria to call for a ban on micro-plastics used in detergents and cosmetics.

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