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Alternatives to single-use plastic: a priority in the Principality

Alternatives plastique

Single-use, disposable plastic is a real blight on the environment and is harmful to health.

There is some good news, however: alternatives to single-use plastic do exist. Like many other countries, the Prince’s Government has unleashed war.

Let’s take a look at the Principality’s commitments, targets and actions to bring about change.

 

Some figures to consider

 

  • 99% of marine animals will have ingested plastic by 2050 (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) – 2015)
  • According to the WWF, 600,000 tonnes of plastic are dumped in the Mediterranean Sea every year
  • Every year, the world uses 5,000 billion plastic bags (UN)
  • It is estimated that nearly 1,800 billion pieces of plastic waste pollute the oceans. The patch of pollution in the Pacific known as the seventh continent, with a surface area three times the size of France, is getting bigger and bigger
  • In Monaco, the incineration of plastic waste accounts for around 15% of greenhouse gas tonnage and 89% of greenhouse gas emissions

In light of these alarming figures, the only viable response is structured action, supported primarily by the public authorities in Principality. This is why, in 2016, the Prince’s Government set itself a target of zero single-use plastic waste by 2030; an ambitious challenge compared to the plans of our European neighbours.

 

To reach this target, a Prevention and Management Plan includes several objectives:

  • Limit the incineration of plastic waste in Monaco to 30,000 tonnes per year
  • Reduce the proportion of plastic waste which is incinerated
  • Increase waste recycling
  • Improve public awareness using the team of waste sorting ambassadors, who were recently renamed “Waste Prevention and Recycling Managers” in the Waste Prevention and Recycling Unit of the Monegasque Sanitation Company (SMA).

 

On this subject, Marie-Pierre Gramaglia, Minister of Public Works, the Environment and Urban Development, recently emphasised: “in the Principality, we are firmly committed to an approach that seeks to ban all single-use plastics. It is the obvious way forward, given how harmful they are and the risks that they pose, particularly for marine animals, since microplastics are mostly dumped in the sea.”

 

She added: “Working to eliminate single-use plastics also helps to reduce the greenhouse gases produced during their manufacture, transport and disposal. These concerns, combining the safeguarding of biodiversity, climate change and improving quality of life, are central to the action taken by the Ministry of Public Works, the Environment and Urban Development.”

 

Valérie Davenet, Director of the Department of the Environment, explained: “what we want to do is to act quickly while supporting those affected and offering alternatives, which should, wherever possible, be reusable. Scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) are telling us about the risks we run if we don’t all make immediate changes to our behaviour and lifestyle.”

 

What solutions are available in practice?

 

 Ban!

 

The ban on single-use plastics entered into force in Monaco at the beginning of this year. Disposable plastic cotton buds, cups, utensils and plates were added to bags, straws and stirrers on the list of banned items. Even if they’re compostable and made from bio-based materials!

 

This decision is part of a series of regulatory bans, which will certainly be stepped up over time. The next steps include banning items made from expanded polystyrene (food trays and containers, salad bowls, ice cream tubs), balloon releases and Chinese lanterns.

 

In addition, all buildings will need to have a bin area by 2022 and  the waste sorting rules have been simplified .

 

Awareness!

 

An awareness programme has been put in place to ensure that people understand and comply with these bans. With this in mind, the Principality took part in the  European Week for Waste Reduction for the first time in late 2019: 60 stakeholders of all kinds came together to raise awareness on this issue. Their efforts were aimed at their employees, customers, children and the general public.

 

The aims of this week were:

  • To raise public awareness about the “3 Rs”: Reduce/Reuse/Recycle
  • To bring together and mobilise the public and private sectors
  • To explain the Government’s policy, since a policy that is understood by everyone helps to achieve buy-in

 

It was a successful effort, featuring several highlights – waste collections, workshops, conferences – and resulting in a total of 78 actions, including 30 internal awareness activities.

 

Support!

 

The Prince’s Government offers support measures aimed at the industries most affected by these changes: traders and restaurant owners.

As invaluable tools for communication and proof of good faith for the consumer,  certifications are awarded to the owners of shops and restaurants who:

  • reduce the amount of disposable packaging and dishes
  • reduce food waste
  • choose local and ethical suppliers

 

The Responsible Trading certification has now been joined by a Responsible Restaurant equivalent. Through individual support, these certifications help restaurant owners and traders to find alternatives to banned products and to adapt their practices. A total of 67 shops and 3 restaurants throughout the country have already been certified (http://www.commerce-engage.com/monaco/ ).

 

In addition, to help restaurant owners in the Principality make this transition, technical factsheets about disposable straws and tableware have been distributed, highlighting permitted materials and recommended practices. These factsheets will be expanded to cover single-use items which are not yet restricted, such as plastic bottles and food containers.

All factsheets will shortly be available on the MTE website and the Prince’s Government Portal.

The Principality has a comprehensive, consistent policy on single-use plastic. In parallel with this action plan, it is taking measures such as strengthening the team of waste sorting ambassadors, and expanding and simplifying recycling guidelines. In addition, disposable plastic cups have been replaced by reusable, returnable alternatives that can be washed on site at major events in Monaco.

 

Plans for 2020...

 

The Prince’s Government’s commitment does not stop there, and there are lots of plans for the future. Actions to be taken this year include:

  • The creation of a certification for responsible community restaurants
  • The 2nd European Week for Waste Reduction
  • A loyalty card designed to reward zero waste

 

Make sure to follow us on our  social media pages to stay up to date with the latest news about current and future plans!

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