Why Should We Ban Single-Use Plastics?

Plastic is a very extraordinary substance with numerous useful applications however it doesn’t worth to produce it for only a single-use when it is so seemingly long-lasting, persevering, and harmful for the natural environment.

What Is Single-Use Plastic?

Single-use plastics, or disposable plastics, are used just once before they are discarded or recycled. These are plastic bags, straws, coffee stirrers, soda, and water bottles and most of the food packaging. Disposable plastic shopping bags take around 20 years to degrade in the ocean – leaving synthetic substances and harmful particles (microplastics) behind. A bottle that holds one beverage will take 450 years or more and for a polystyrene (styrofoam) container  – from 500 to hundreds of thousands of years to break down into microplastic.

We produce approximately 300 million tons of plastic every year and half of it is disposable! Worldwide just 10 to 13 percent of plastics are recycled. Petroleum-based plastic isn’t biodegradable and for the most part, goes into a landfill where it is covered or it gets into the water and discovers its way into the ocean. Albeit plastic won’t biodegrade (deteriorate into a common substance like soil) it will degrade into tiny particles after many years. During the period of degrading, it discharges toxic substances that advance into our food and water supply.

We produce a large number of plastics consistently, a large portion of which can’t be recycled. Clearly we have to use less plastic, move towards environmentally sustainable products and develop technology and innovations that recycle plastic more effectively.

E.U. Single-Use Plastic Ban 

In October 2018, the European Parliament voted for a ban on the top 10 single-use plastic items including straws, plates, cups and cotton buds, in an attempt to stop plastic pollution of the ocean and empower sustainable options.

The Single-Use Plastics Directive will ban items for which alternatives are available, for example, single-use plastic cutlery, plates, and products made of oxo-degradable plastics, by 2021. E.U. members states will likewise need to accomplish a 90 percent collection target for plastic bottles by 2029.

Moreover, the agreement will extend the “polluter pays” principle, putting more pressure on producers of tobacco filters, fishing gear, and other pollutive items to support environmental obligation.

The ban is, initially, extensive. Besides the 2021 complete restriction on a lot of single-use items, the use of plastics for which no alternatives now exist – generally food packaging – should be cut down by 25 percent by 2025. Beverage bottles will require be collecting and recycling at a pace of 90 percent by 2025. Cigarette butts should be reduced by 50 percent by 2025, and 80 percent by 2030.

As per the European Commission, over 80 percent of marine litter is plastics, and less than 30 percent of the 25 million tons of plastic waste produced yearly by E.U. nations are recycled. Because of its slow pace of decomposition, plastic accumulates in oceans, seas and on seashores in the E.U. and around the world. The legislation is evaluated to keep away from around $25 billion worth of environmental damage by 2030.

E.U. single-use plastic ban
The most common objects of plastic pollution. Credit: Twitter
What Is Being Banned?

The E.U. Single-Use Plastics Directive focuses on the most widely recognized plastic pollutants of the ocean. The list of banned products such as cutlery and cotton buds was picked because there are promptly accessible alternatives, for example, paper straws and cardboard containers.

Other products, “where no elective exists” in any case must be decreased by 25 percent in all member states by 2025.

MEPs likewise attached alterations to the designs for cigarette filters, a plastic pollutant that is common litter on seashores. Cigarette producers should lessen the plastic by half by 2025 and 80 percent by 2030.

Another ambitious objective is to ensure 90 percent of every single plastic beverage bottles are collected for recycling by 2025. As of now, bottles and their lids represent about 20 percent of the ocean plastic. Producers will likewise need to assume greater responsibility for what befalls their plastic items and packaging.

Wealthy Affiliate

Single-Use Plastic Ban in North America

Only around 10 percent of plastic waste gets recycled in the USA and Canada. Most plastic up in landfills, some is burned and others wind up in unmanaged dumps.

Canada plans to “ban harmful single-use plastics as early as 2021” and address companies that that manufacture or sell plastics to be responsible for their plastic waste. The Canadian government did not specify which single-use plastic items will be banned, but most likely the list will include “shopping bags, straws, cutlery, plates, and stir sticks”.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that Canada threw away 8 billion Canadian dollars’ worth of plastic material each year. “People have had enough of seeing their parks and beaches covered with plastic,” he said. “That’s a problem, one that we have to do something about.”

There is no nation-wide plastic ban in the USA. However, several states announced a ban on most types of disposable bags. In 2016, California passed the first statewide ban on single-use plastic, as well as a 10-cent tax on paper or reusable bags.

Other states include Hawaii, New York and as well as the territories of American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.

New York plastic bags ban
New York bans plastic bags. Image source: Pixabay / BrightVibes

There have also been plastic bag bans implemented in cities like Seattle, Boston, San Diego and Washington, D.C., and some states like Maine, Vermont, and Maryland.

However, this has led to clashing over whether it’s legal to ban plastic in some cities and states, placing a ban on ban. The plastic industry is putting a lot of their money on preemption to make it illegal to ban single-use plastics.

Wealthy Affiliate

Plastic Pollution Is a Global Challenge

Countries around the globe are joining the initiative in banning harmful plastics. The United Nations reports that 180 countries reached an agreement to reduce single-use plastics that make it to the ocean and is harmful to marine wildlife by imposing bans or taxes.

In 2002, Bangladesh was the first country to ban plastic bags. The Indian government announced that will eliminate single-use plastics by 2022. Since 2017, Kenya has implemented the strict plastic bag ban for selling, producing or using plastic bags that could end up with imprisonment of up to four years or fines of $40,000. Single-use plastic bags have been prohibited in New Zealand starting on July 1, 2019.

Chili was the first country to ban nationwide single-use plastics in Latin America, followed by Colombia and Panama. Costa Rica pledged to abandon disposable plastics by 2021. Other countries and cities in Latin America and the Caribbean use taxes, bans and innovative approaches.

The Impact of Plastic on the Environment

A large number of plastics floats in the ocean in goliath islands of plastic waste. As indicated by the World Economic Forum, 90 percent of the plastic winding up in the oceans, and that presently there are 50 million tons of plastic in the world’s oceans.

Obscure amounts have degraded into tiny toxic microplastic particles that act similarly as microbeads, drawing in and restricting different toxins and making themselves increasingly dangerous. While it floats and breaks down, the plastic drains marine-toxic synthetic compounds into the water. Microparticles of plastic end up in the stomachs of marine creatures, birds and, in a human organism too.

single-use plastic ban
Sea lion tangled in plastic. Photo credit: Pxfuel

The impacts of plastic bags and bottle caps on seabirds, turtles, seals, whales, and different species are graphically shown by their death from starvation after erroneously expending the plastic or from getting tangled up in it.

These toxic substances are presently being found in our circulation system and the most recent research has discovered them to upset the Endocrine framework which can cause cancer, infertility, birth defects, impaired immunity, and numerous different sicknesses.

In conclusion, we need to consider changing our everyday shopping habits such as excessive consumption and minimizing single-use plastic waste. Before buying anything containing plastic parts, consider alternatives, including packaging. You can find more recycling tips here.

What are other ways to avoid using single-use plastics? Do you use them when you go shopping? Do they help you minimize your expenses or vice versa? Please share your comments or questions below.

Green Roof Buildings

Green roofs, or what is also called living roofs, are underutilized spaces in an urban environment, yet any landscape, garden or park can be installed on a building or structure. Over the past 30 years, green roof constructions have become part of urban architecture in many cities around the world.

Modern green roofs were first developed in the 1960s in Germany. In the course of recent years, roofs have turned into the focal point of quiet yet steady progress through the use of green roof technology in Europe. Cities such as Stuttgart in Germany and Copenhagen in Denmark are known for their many green roofs. About 20-25 percent of the roofs in Stuttgart are green and around the country 10 percent of green roofs. These successes were largely achieved through government incentives.

France Mandates Green Roofs

In 2015, France passed a law that mandated all new commercial buildings built in the country to be at least in part covered by green roofs or solar panels.

Marcel Sembat High School in Sotteville Les Rouen, France
Marcel Sembat High School in Sotteville Les Rouen, France. Source: https://inhabitat.com

The green roofs are turning into widespread constructions of buildings around the world. These types of green roofs have many interesting features, from lowering the maintenance cost to reducing stormwater runoff.

One of the main reasons why these roofs have become widely popular is their ability to minimize the urban heat island effect. According to research green roof can reduce the temperature of cities by 1-2 degrees Celsius.

Green roofs of Jean Moulin High School in Revin, France
Jean Moulin High School in Revin, France. Source: https://lostateminor.com

It is very important that properly planned green roofs can imitate natural processes. Thus, even the thinnest green roof can adequately absorb most of the rainfall, reverse the effects of urban heat islands and create a natural habitat for urban-dwelling animals. They also properly insulate structures, providing energy efficiency, extend the life of the roofing layer, increase the value of a real estate and significantly improve the urban design.

Gallery of Escape Bienvenue, France
Gallery of Escape Bienvenue, France. Source: https://www.archdaily.com

Green Roof Buildings in North America

While Europeans have been getting a charge out of these advantages for a considerable length of time, Americans have only recently started to grasp them. Toronto was the first city in North America to pass a Green Roof By-law in January 2010 that required green roofs must be incorporated into the structure of every single new building.

Green roof buildings in downtown Toronto
Green roof buildings in downtown Toronto. Source: https://www.daliform.com/

With the population growth, it is becoming increasingly difficult to discover green space in the city. Toronto is battling this with its recently delegated Green Roof by-law. Toronto City Council mandated by-law is an incredible achievement for green living.

“Toronto’s by-law provides a new opportunity to strengthen the emerging practice of integrated green building design,” said Steven W. Peck, the president of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities. “[It] breaks new ground on how to structure a mandatory green roof requirement.”

Vancouver Convention Centre green roof
Vancouver Convention Centre green roof. Source: https://dailyhive.com

Although the United States does not have nationwide green roof law, there are financial incentives and initiatives/programs that promote green roofs in many cities across the country, including Chicago, New York, Portland, and Washington. In addition, green roofs provide LEED certification, environmental remediation and extend the service life twice as long as conventional roofs.

Check Amazon for Solar Panels »  

Chicago City Hall Green Roof

One of the world’s most outstanding green roofs is Chicago’s City Hall that is a mix of intensive and extensive green roofs. Finished in 2001, the rooftop garden was intended to test various sorts of green roof systems, warming and cooling benefits, achievement paces of local and non-local vegetation, and decreases in water spillover.

Chicago City Hall Green Roof
Chicago City Hall Green Roof. Credit: TonyTheTiger/Wikimedia Commons

The three systems coordinated into the plan incorporate lightweight soils at 4, 6 and 18 creeps top to bottom. These changing green roof systems are perceived individually as extensive, semi-intensive, and intensive green roofs. Soils were created utilizing lightweight soil blend rules created in Germany in the course of recent years.

Like every green roof, the City Hall rooftop garden improves air quality, preserves vitality, diminishes tempest water spillover and reduces the effects of urban heat islands. The garden’s plants reflect heat, give shade and help cool the encompassing air through evapotranspiration, which happens when plants discharge or come to pass water through pores in their leaves. The water draws heat as it dissipates, cooling the air all the while. Plants additionally channel the air, which improves the air quality by utilizing overabundance carbon dioxide to create oxygen.

The plantings are composed in a sunburst design, which regards the evenness of the memorable City Hall and gives an arrangement for organizing gatherings of plants over the three distinctive roof systems.

In total, the City Hall planted more than 3,500 species of plants and more than 150 species of animals in the 3,530-meter space.

Check Amazon for Complete Solar System »

New York City Green Roofs

In New York City, there are about 730 buildings covered with green roofs. Although this represents only 0.1 percent of the city’s 1 million buildings, their number is increasing every year. The Javits Center has the largest green roof, while smaller green roofs cover private homes, schools, and farms such as Brooklyn Grunge.

New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center
New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Source: http://www.wc3design.com

The Javits Convention Center is home to NYC’s largest green roof, built-in 2014. The nearly 7-acre green roof features 14 different varieties of Sedum plants. The green roof reduces energy consumption by 26 percent and prevents about 6.8 million gallons of water runoff every year. In addition, the roof provides habitat for more than a dozen different species of birds.

Wealthy Affiliate

Green roofs help NYC combat the urban heat island effects, which are expected to worsen with climate change. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more Americans die from the effects of the urban heat island than from other natural disasters.

New York City’s goal is to reconstruct old pre-war buildings to improve energy efficiency in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings. Local laws set carbon limits and heavy fines starting in 2024.

California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco
California Academy of Sciences. Source: https://archiscapes.files.wordpress.com

The introduction of this lightweight green roof construction technology is expanding worldwide as cities from around the world learn about the benefits of vast extensive green roofs. In 1999, the Green Roofs for Healthy Cities association was founded in North America, which has held annual Green Roof conferences since 2003.

Wealthy Affiliate

Thus, green roofs have great advantages for growing cities in combating the effects of urban heat islands, greenhouse gas emissions from buildings and providing a habitat for birds and animals. Green roof technologies are becoming more affordable and efficient. Cities with a growing population should become more sustainable and resilient to climate change and other challenges of the future.

What about the city where you live? Is it sustainable and has joined green roof initiatives? How do you want to see it in the future? Please leave your comment below.