Disposable plastic: a spoiled directive's route

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Touillettes, straws, Cotton-Rod … So many plastic objects soon banned from the Union. This popular decision was made in eight months. An extraordinary performance as the European texts are subjected to multiple validations, amendments and power games.

By Zineb Dryef Posted today at 13h39, updated at 13h40

Time to Reading 25 min.

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Andrew B. Myers for M The World Magazine

This winter, just a few days before Christmas, French television visited Maurice Bouchayer. His name does not tell you anything – unless you live in the Grenoble area and you like magic shows – but Maurice Bouchayer, in addition to his magician-ventriloquist activity, is the last manufacturer of inflatable balloons made in France. At 62, he was just about to hand over his factory to his children, but his plans are dead.

Voiceover of the report: "In question, the European directive that banned plastic rods, support balloons, in 2021." The boss does not know how to replace them. If it uses cardboard or wood, the stalk could break, but the standards of children's toys require that they be unbreakable. Worse: the directive provides for greater responsibility for balloon producers. Voiceover again: "Each of the 60 million balloons that this plant makes this year will be taxed (…) Faced with this political decision taken without consultation, the family wondered about its future. "

" A lack "

And here is a summary in just over two minutes what our collective imagination lends to European directives: the power to impose, without any consultation, absurd decisions that complicate the lives of European citizens. Really ? To understand how the directives are born in Brussels, let's try to trace the path of what is now in fifth position "Top 20 EU achievements" of the Commission's report: Mr Bouchayer's famous balloon directive, or to be more precise "Directive on the reduction of the environmental impact of certain plastic products", also called SUP Directive (single-use plastics) or Single Use Plastics Directive.

What is it about ? A European legislative act that gives objectives to the Member States by leaving them free to choose the means to implement to achieve them. Here, the goal is to fight against marine litter by disposing of the ten most commonly found disposable plastic items on European beaches as well as abandoned fishing gear at sea (mostly plastic nets). Because they can be made with other materials than plastic, some of the items on this list will be banned from 2021 (plates, cutlery, cotton swabs, straws, drink sticks, ball stems).

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