Tuesday, March 28

Open letter to deputies and senators: I do not want to see more plastics in the sea

It is curious how the image of a seahorse anchored to a stick, a turtle suffocated by a straw, strangled by can rings, eating plastic that is confused with jellyfish or one that is unable to swim because it is trapped in a plastic tangle. Nor can we ignore seabirds that cannot feed because plastic remains knot their beaks, or large sperm whales stranded on beaches with huge amounts of plastic in their stomachs. It is also sad to hear the continual complaints from fishermen that their main catch has been replaced by disposable wipes and rubbish. The examples of how plastic is extremely harmful to marine fauna are innumerable, and it is true that the message permeates the population while the political agenda, at the moment, does not provide solutions.

The seas around the world have become large dumps that, covered by a blanket of salt water, are out of sight of all, and of course “eyes that do not see, heart that does not feel” and, consequently, impassive politicians .

These days, the Congress and the Senate are debating the renewal of the Waste Law, a key tool for transferring the European Directive on single-use plastics, whose main motivation was precisely the problem of scattered garbage in the marine environment, an issue that experts and legislators have defined as a growing global problem. So much so, that at a global level the reduction of marine litter is a key action to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

There are basic issues that should be tackled from this Waste Law. Today, the text that the Senate has in its hands falls short both in ambition and in the application of forceful measures. For example, the incorporation of refund and return systems, a measure supported by environmental organizations, is an issue that is not closed and will be decided in the future if it goes ahead. In short, lights, but also many shadows.

Half measures are no longer valid, and the law should not remain a mere declaration of intent. “Promote”, “foment”, “support”, “identify” are recurring words in the current text, but they make the measures really weak tools. Instead, they should be replaced by actions of depth that would empower the text, thus following the guidelines set by the waste hierarchy at European level. That is, prevention and reuse first, as opposed to recycling, recovery for other uses, and landfill disposal.

There are feasible measures to be applied from the law, which can range from incorporating restrictions on single-use plastics in public administration buildings, hotels and restaurants, to prohibiting the rings of cans or the massive release of balloons. Obligations could even be incorporated to the use of reusable containers and containers or the sale in bulk. Making plastic producers financially accountable for the impact their products cause on the environment is another way of making the principle fairer”who pollutes, pays”, in this way, it would be avoided that the municipal public coffers or the environmental volunteers be responsible for cleaning the beaches and the seabed.

In view of the situation, why doesn’t the message reach the politicians? Why aren’t drastic measures being taken to end single-use plastics once and for all?

I do not want to see how future generations perceive the seas as landfills, I do not want to see how we live with our backs to the ocean, I do not want to see more plastic than fish in the sea. I want to see a blue sea, a lung of the planet clean and full of life. Deputies and Deputies, Senators and Senators, it’s time. We want solutions now to end the accumulation of plastics in the sea.