Why is the plastic law important?

by Greenstic on Apr 01, 2021

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By 2021, plastic will be everywhere on Earth. PET bottles are in shopping carts just like plastic bags are in the deep ocean Mariana Trench or microplastic particles in Antarctic ice sheets . Plastic piles up on the beaches of Southeast Asia's fabled archipelago and in the stomachs of washed-up turtles and whales. A few weeks ago, 71 kg of plastic waste was found in the stomach of a cow.

Today, there is no living being that is not exposed to plastic pollution and we do not have vain hopes, this includes humans. According to WWF research, 5 grams of plastic, or the amount of a bank card , enter our bodies every week, and experts predict that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish . In short, this is why it is necessary to regulate the use of plastic - both domestically and internationally. Here, it is no longer a question of whether we selectively collect garbage bags or not.

Plastic on the ground, in the water, in the air - Why is it so harmful?

Fossil fuel-derived plastic has almost become a curse word today, even though barely a century ago it was seen as a sensational innovation that revolutionized medicine, made space travel possible, and opened new horizons for storing clean drinking water. In this way, plastic is not only useful, but often has a life-saving role in our lives. The problem started when thousands of new plastic products hit the shelves after the Second World War, and their production accelerated the more often we started replacing these everyday items. This is how the culture of disposable, single-use goods was born.

Although plastic is extremely tough and durable, plastic bags and plastic bottles are used for only a few minutes or hours. However, it can take up to 400 years for them to decompose. It is also an alarming detail that barely 9% of the plastic in circulation is recycled, while another 12% ends up in incinerators. The remaining, unimaginably large amount ends up in the oceans or turns into microplastics into the soil and air, polluting the living world and endangering our health.

Let's look at the data of the past decades : the amount of plastic produced in 1950 of 2.3 million tons increased to almost 450 million tons by 2015, which is expected to double by 2050. Looking at the above ratios, after a little mental calculation, we get a rather daunting figure. It is no coincidence that according to one of the most frequently mentioned predictions, there will be more plastic in the sea than fish by the turn of the 21st century. And this is all the more possible if we add that about 40% of the plastic produced worldwide is made up of single-use plastic.

Of course, the problem is complex and the fault is not only in the plastic itself. It wouldn't even make sense to ban it overnight as a raw material, since it is still irreplaceable in some areas. The problem is really how we look at it. It's time to rethink where and with what we could use, thereby reducing the amount of single-use products. It is time to move towards a circular economy.

Plastics Act at home and abroad

Although more and more people are aware of the harmful effects of plastic on our environment and our health, change cannot come fast enough. The plastic crisis is one of the most urgent global problems of our time, which is compounded by the ever-increasing production of single-use plastic products. Not to mention that this material not only pollutes after it becomes waste, but also during production and use. It is not surprising that more and more countries and organizations are calling for the introduction of plastic regulations as soon as possible.

Although the coronavirus has temporarily diverted attention from all of this, due to the EU regulation that will also enter into force in Hungary on July 1, 2021, it is time to bring up the plastic issue again. In 2018, the European Parliament put a ban on single-use plastic products on the agenda, including straws and balloon stems, cutlery and plates, ear cleaners, and food containers and EPS (expanded polystyrene) cups. In addition to these, the domestic plastics law voted on June 3, 2020 also prohibits or restricts the distribution of plastic bags from July 2021.

What exactly does this mean?

  • Plastic bags with a thickness between 15 and 20 microns are banned.
  • The product price of "kiflis bags" thinner than 15 microns will increase 20 times (from the current 57/kg to HUF 1,900/kg).
  • In the case of bags thicker than 15 microns, only "degradable" bags are permitted, but these can also be sold with a product fee of HUF 500/kg. This is necessary because, contrary to their name, these bags unfortunately only decompose under special, industrial conditions.

The plastic bag is the number one consumer product in the world and also the most common waste on (European) beaches, so it is no coincidence that it has recently been banned in more and more countries. The only question is whether regulations and restrictions will succeed in changing the way people and companies think about plastic. And ultimately, are we still in time for all of this?