More parts of the world have gotten on board with banning single use plastic and there is now a new member to the progressive group. Starting on May 1st, plastic plates, cups, forks and other picnic ware will be illegal on Isole Tremiti, a chain of islands off Italy’s eastern coast.
The Mayor of the islands, Antonio Fentini, will impose fines between €50 and €500 on anyone – businesses or individuals – caught using plastic cups, plates or utensils on any of the archipelago’s three islands. Instead, people are encouraged to switch to reusable or biodegradable picnicware.
Fentini has yet been able to get a ban on plastic bottles but hopes to see plastic bottles replaced with glass. He also hopes to outlaw polystyrene containers, which fishermen commonly use to transport catch.
Plastic bottles are not banned – yet, according to Fentini, who would like to see them replaced with glass. He also hopes to outlaw polystyrene containers, which fishermen commonly use to transport their catch and which often end up in the sea.
A recent Greenpeace investigation measured high concentrations of microplastics in the waters around the Tremiti islands, despite their protected status. Researchers found 2.2 pieces of plastic per metre cubed of water, most of it polyethylene, the common plastic used to make bags, bottles and other packaging.
Greenpeace does point out that thrash is probably not coming directly from Tremiti but rather the plastic is swept up by currents and brought towards the islands. Although the move by Tremiti and the leadership provided by Mayor Fentini is outstanding, we need more commitments by governments to protect the invaluable oceans.
In 2011, Italy did introduced a nationwide ban on plastic shopping bags in 2011, making it one of the first European countries to do so. And since the beginning of 2018, the ultra-thin plastic bags used for produce also have to be replaced by biodegradable versions.
Studies suggest that more than 90 percent of litter floating in the Mediterranean or on its deep sea floor is plastic, according to Greenpeace. The time for change is now and let’s ensure it happens. Reach out to your local and federal governments and demand that we need change today.