Let’s reconvert the plastics society
The history of human civilization has known and knows darker moments and brighter moments, lights and shadows, as in the alternation of day and night.
But if the judgment is almost always posthumous how can we be judged by those who will write the next history books?
Despite so many rays of light, which often do not make the news, this civilization will almost certainly be labeled as the civilization of consumption, waste and pollution.
A civilization that has escaped from the laws and rules of Nature creating its own nature, very imperfect, limited, degraded, corrupt.
A perfectly geometric function is linked to this distance: the more we move away from the principles of Nature, the more the system is corrupted.
In nature everything is recovered, reworked, shared… nothing is wasted.
In the new nature founded by this civilization we recover almost nothing, we do not rework, we do not share…. waste is maximum and not just material waste.
We have set up a model of civilization that transcends nature and mortifies it, mortifying humanity which is part of nature.
Without entering into the temptation of an all-round treatment, it is evident that some aspects of our society cannot be maintained for a long time.
Among these we refer to the disposable civilization, especially in the plastics sector, a real problem within the problem.
Beyond the data on the use and abuse of these synthetic materials, which already represent a great defeat for our social model, it is evident that the role for a transition towards a truly ecological civilization (and not only in words) it must be carried out jointly by Politics and citizens’ organizations (starting with the family, passing through the school, up to any other form of aggregation).
However, the goal must be unitary, clear, without compromise and with a certain path.
The time of immobility and indifference is over and the European Union is well aware of it with its EU directive 2019/904, which puts an end to single-use plastic products starting from 2021 (and we are in 2021).
The new rules that the EU directive brings with it are destined to change the habits of citizens and, above all, the products and packaging that surround us. From food containers to plastic bottles and cutlery, no product category is excluded.
This directive is based on the existing legislation on plastic waste, taking a step forward: it bans the most polluting products for the seas and their fauna and obliges the reduction of the use of plastic materials more dispersed in the environment.
By 2021, disposable plastic plates, cutlery, straws, balloon sticks and cotton buds should gradually disappear (better to use the conditional). Furthermore, the innovations brought by the European directive on single-use plastics also reward sustainable and innovative products, made up of materials that are easy to dispose of.
But the issue must be addressed in a more involving way and in this sense the EU Directive is concerned with other measures, useful for encouraging the circular economy and environmental awareness.
Among these measures it is worth highlighting the main ones:
– extended producer responsibility regime, known as EPR. This regulation provides that companies producing plastic objects such as, among others, walking cups, containers for take-away food and fishing gear, must pay for the financing of the correct disposal of this waste;
– obligation for EU member countries that by 2025 must guarantee recycling equal to 77% of what is produced and placed on the market. This percentage is set to grow: by 2029, 90% of plastic bottles will have to be recycled. The target for the next decade will instead be the percentage of recycled plastic (30%) used to produce the same number of plastic bottles.
But as usual, and here the error is in the pathology of our society, the task of decreasing the use of plastic materials cannot be entrusted only to EU directives and national laws and decrees.
More is needed, not only in the regulatory field, where a strong intervention should be that of advantageous taxation for the use of non-plastic materials for identical uses; we also need a great and real program that involves families, schools and organizations towards a plastic free world.
Lifestyles must be changed but they must be encouraged, both culturally and economically.
Just think of the plastics that we accumulate every day for the consumption of mineral water, drinks and food. A waste whose data are bringing to its knees a planet already tried on other fronts.
I believe that with the Plan for the recovery of Europe, the so-called Recovery Fund, we must implement a major program of awareness, on the one hand, and incentives on the other to the use of new eco-sustainable materials.
Just think of the food supply chain where huge quantities of plastic, largely not recycled, are introduced into the environment to produce one kg of food, resulting in the accumulation of plastics and microplastics in the food chain and in the environment.
In fact, it is not enough to talk about Circular Economy if we do not act on every single aspect of our production and consumption models.
They all need to be reviewed and invest in this revision in exchange for a cultural and productive paradigm.
All responsible and no one on the sidelines.