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Adieu to Single Use Plastic

On January 14, 2022, the ban on placing single-use plastic products for consumption came into force. The date is relevant. 

The prohibition is contained in Article 5 of Legislative Decree 196/2021 and concerns the so-called "Sup-single use plastics" products referred to in Directive (EU) 2019/904 (including cotton buds; cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers, expanded polystyrene food containers, etc.) all including oxodegradable plastic products (for instance, chemical additives for fragmentation). The sale of these products is allowed only until stocks are exhausted and only if it can be demonstrated that the acquisition is prior to the entry into force of the aforementioned prohibition. 

The sale of biodegradable and compostable products, on the other hand, complying with the Uni En 13432 or Uni En 14995 standards with percentages of renewable raw materials equal to or greater than 40% (from 2024 it will become 60%) is allowed. 

There are pecuniary administrative penalties (from 2,500 euros to 25,000 euros) for placing on the market or making available prohibited products, for those who place on the market or make available products that have different characteristics from those prescribed or that are the privilege of marking requirements. 

In 2019, in the absence of environmental legislation, the MEDSEA Foundation launched the "Bars for the Sea" program with the aim of reducing the impact of bar and restaurant situations on Mediterranean beaches. The first recipients of the program were the bar-restaurants of the Poetto beach in Cagliari. By joining the #BarsForTheSea initiative, the bars are committed to fighting the pollution of marine bottles and making their own contribution to the protection of the marine ecosystems of the Mediterranean, implementing specific improvement actions including: progressive elimination of take-away plastic bottles with bottles of other materials and availability at the point of sale of steel or aluminum water bottles; ban on the use of plates, straws, mixers, cutlery and bags in plastic and non-biodegradable materials (to be replaced with objects in metal, ceramic or reusable bags); limitation of the sale of products with excessive packaging (ice cream in bulk, packaged fruit juices), by favoring the offer of fresh juices, centrifuges and smoothies of products; Annual increase of the returnable vacuum tool for the reuse of beer and water bottles. 

The result of the initiative was excellent: in just 3 months, 3.5 tons of plastic were saved, equal to 91 thousand cubic meters. To give a visual measure of the operation, the formation of a plastic island equal to 36 square kilometers, larger than the surface of La Maddalena and Caprera in the north of Sardinia, was avoided. 

Certainly, this legislation will contribute considerably to reduce the amount of waste that every year dumps into the sea but the problem is not solved yet. The models of production, service delivery and consumption, the engineering of packaging and materials will have to be rethought, and this will be the great challenge of this decade. Although the industry has already shown willingness to activate an industrial transformation in line with ecological one, some difficulties in terms of costs and realignment between supply and demand will have to be addressed. 

In the meantime MEDSEA will continue with awareness-raising activities, such as Clean up on the beach and on the coasts with citizens and schools, such as the recent Puliamo la Sella and Plastic Hunt, and with #BarfortheSea together with small businesses, and to monitor the state of health of our sea. 

Because the most important change can also and above all be cultural and in our daily habits. 

Piera Pala 

Avvocato in diritto ambientale e co-founder MEDSEA 



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