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Now is the time for companies to stop marketing single-use plastics !

Single-use plastics are still available on European markets, despite the recent adoption by the European Union of a directive aiming at banning them on its territory. Why is this major environmental progress not fully implemented by Member-States and companies? Committed on this crucial isssue, Surfrider Foundation Europe calls on the European Commission to enforce the law.

The Single Use Rebellion campaign to protest against single-use plastics still in our shops

A European campaign against single-use plastics

Did you know that single-use plastics are one of the main types of waste found on our beaches and in the Ocean? In view of this situation, the European Union (EU) adopted, in 2019, a directive aimed at banning certain single-use plastic products throughout its territory. Two years after the directive came into force, Surfrider Foundation Europe wondered how far this legislation was actually being applied. Having a law is fine, but is it really being put into practice? To check on this, Surfrider Foundation Europe launched the Single Use Rebellion in early September. 

Alas, it would seem that many single-use plastic products are still on sale in Europe. The Single-Use Rebellion campaign has therefore decided to call on citizens, companies and decision-makers to push for the implementation of the Single-Use Directive in European countries. 

An alarming initial assessment

Thanks to citizens in France and also in other EU countries (e.g. Spain, Belgium, Bulgaria) who took up the issue, the SURe campaign has been able to draw up an initial assessment of compliance with the directive to ban single-use plastics from our shops. Amongst the single-use plastics reported as being still available figure disposable cutlery, straws, plates and snack boxes made of expanded polystyrene. These are a real scourge for the environment and for the Ocean, and it is urgent to eliminate them.

Why are there still so many single-use plastics covered by the Directive available in the European Union?

Companies are still selling single-use plastics covered by the EU Directive

Many companies are marketing single-use plastics in shops and online, despite European standards and their transposition into national legislation, and this is of course to the detriment of the ocean. And many European countries have not yet finalised incorporating the Single Use directive into national law. In these countries, a number of companies – sensing that they are not yet compelled to comply with the directive – continue to market plastics that have been banned by the EU. :

And even in countries where the directive has been transposed at national level, such as France, companies are resorting to all sorts of tricks in order to continue marketing these plastics. In particular, the words “reusable” have started appearing on the packaging of various products, even though these are utensils that are unlikely to be washed and reused several times. There has also been an increase in the number of single-use bioplastics (biosourced or biodegradable) which are supposedly less harmful for the environment. However, these bioplastic cutlery, straws and plates are also prohibited by the European directive. These plastics are often claimed to be compostable or biodegradable but in fact they usually require an industrial composting process that is obviously not accessible to consumers.   

Some examples of “bad pupils”

Spotted at Action, Gifi et Casino.

Surfrider Foundation Europe is alerting companies during the European Week for Waste Reduction (20 November 2021-28 November 2021) 

 A key event in the fight against waste in Europe 

The European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) acts as a spotlight focusing on all the projects and initiatives that aim to consume better, produce better, extend the life of products, and throw away less. As consumption and waste production continue to increase, it is important to rethink our consumption patterns.

Waste prevention and reduction are major solutions to the plastic pollution crisis, and increased awareness and commitment from actors at all levels of society are essential. In this race against time, the disappearance of single-use items, especially plastic items, from the shelves must be a priority. During the European Week for Waste Reduction Surfrider Foundation Europe wishes to highlight these aberrations and other tactics to get round the single-use plastics law with a series of three videos representing everyday situations that unfortunately still correspond to reality.

It is crucial that European companies begin now to reduce single-use plastics. Here are some examples of actions :

👉 Stop selling single-use plastics,

👉 Selling sustainable, zero waste alternatives,

👉 Developping reusable products, by implementing some waste deposit systems.

👉 Chosing the path of a sustainable future, and not waiting the last moment to participate to the transition towards a zero waste lifestyle. 

The European Commission has been informed of companies’ tactics to avoid respecting the directive

Supported by the Rethink Plastic Alliance as well as the Break Free From Plastic International movement, the community of Surfrider Foundation Europe has decided to call on the European Commission to act on this urgent issue. By writing a letter to the Commission, Surfrider Foundation Europe expresses its concern on the lack of implementation of the directive on single-use plastics. Convinced that this directive could play a decisive role in mitigating the impacts of marine plastic pollution, Surfrider Foundation Europe has fought for its adoption for many years.

Our Ocean increasingly needs protection against plastic pollution, and to that day, we do not meet this challenge. It is therefore time to put into place some real, concrete actions.

Help us spread the message as widely as possible so that companies and the different supermarket chains stop flooding Europe with single-use plastic.

To learn more on plastic pollution, visit our website.