Top officials from Britain and the EU traded Twitter barbs yesterday over who would do most for the environment after Brexit, in a spat over proposals to ban plastic straws.
British Environment Secretary Michael Gove, a leading eurosceptic, suggested leaving the EU would make it easier for his country to take action to cut plastic pollution.
He told Sky News there were “a number of things, from banning plastic straws to ending the live export of animals for slaughter, where being outside the EU actually makes it easier for us to do the right thing”.
European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans responded on Twitter: “One step ahead of you. EU legislation on single-use plastics coming before the summer.
“Maybe you can align with us? #EUDoesntSuck #StrongerTogether #PlasticsStrategy.”
A few hours later, Gove hit back, noting “there has been no specific proposal — as yet — from the EU to ban straws”.
“Also waiting for the EU to catch up on microbeads — UK’s ban is 1st in Europe #greenbrexit,” he tweeted.
The European Commission announced plans in January to increase plastic recycling and phase out single-use plastic, but it has yet to publish legislation.
The scourge of throwaway plastic bottles and cardboard coffee cups is a problem with a solution all over the world. Tonnes of chip bags, soda bottles, takeout containers and other disposable plastic items flowing into our landfills and our waters, winding up in wildlife, drinking water and food. More than 100 cities have adopted restrictions on polystyrene takeout containers, and the state has banned single-use plastic grocery bags.
Taiwan is planning a blanket ban on single-use plastic items including straws, cups and shopping bags by 2030, officials said, with restaurants facing new restrictions from next year.
It is the latest push by Taiwan to cut waste and pollution after introducing a recycling programme and charges for plastic bags.
The island’s eco-drive has also extended to limiting the use of incense at temples and festivals to protect public health.
Its new plan will force major chain restaurants to stop providing plastic straws for in-store use from 2019, a requirement that will expand to all dining outlets in 2020.
Consumers will have to pay extra for all straws, plastic shopping bags, disposable utensils and beverage cups from 2025, ahead of a full ban on the single-use items five years later, according to the road map from the government’s Environmental Protection Administration (EPA).
The push to ban plastic straws gained momentum after a YouTube video showing a sea turtle with a plastic straw stuck in its nose went viral in 2015.
Some communities are banning the plastic straw outright. The aim is to reduce usage, and hopefully eliminate them.
The straw, it may seem like a small thing. But the small things add up. Straws are the beginning; stirrers and ubiquitous single-use plastic water bottle also do harm to our oceans.
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