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国际英语新闻:News Analysis: Italian region takes lead on outlawing most forms of single-use plastic

Source: Xinhuanet    2019-03-19  我要投稿   论坛   Favorite  

ROME, March 18 (Xinhua) -- The Italian region of Apulia is set to become the first in Italy to ban almost all single-use plastic, an "important and symbolic" step against what analysts say is emerging as one of the world's biggest environmental challenges.

The region that forms the heel on Italy's boot-shaped peninsula is the first to ban single-use plastic from its beaches and seaside communities. The only exemption is for plastic water bottles, which will phase out within a year.

The move -- the result of an agreement between the Apulia regional government, local business associations, and environmental groups -- comes two years before a similar European Union directive comes into effect for all member states, including Italy.

"This is an important and symbolic step that will give businesses in Apulia extra time to adapt to the rules," Eva Alessi, head of the sustainable consumption section with WWF-Italia, an environmental lobby group, told Xinhua. "The situation we find ourselves in now is not sustainable. Action has to start somewhere."

Among the major problems with single-use plastics is that it breaks down into micro-plastics, particles so small they can enter the ecosystem as part of the food chain, in the air, or absorbed into beverages. Micro-plastics can also be contained within modern fabrics used for clothing, in cosmetics, or as byproducts of industrial processes.

The full long-term health impacts of microplastics are unknown since their increase is been so dramatic. According to Alessandro Botti, president of Italy's Association of Sea Environment, the world produces around 310 million tons of plastic per year, compared to just 15 million tons 50 years ago. Only around a tenth of the total production of plastics is recovered and reused.

"At the rate we're going, we could be producing as much as 1 billion tons a year within a few years," Botti said in an interview. "Various conservation and recycling initiatives have an impact, but the rate of increase isn't slowing."

The new rule in Apulia on its own will have a limited impact, analysts said. The sea off Apulia's coast has high concentrations of micro-plastics, but it comes from all over the Mediterranean.

"It's important for Apulia to take this step because it shows other regions this can be done," Francesco Tarantini, president of the Apulia chapter of Legambiente, an environmental group, told Xinhua.

"But for this kind of action to have an impact, every region has to take this step. Every country. This is a problem we can only solve if global action is taken."

According to Alessi and Botti, around 9 million tons of the world's total production of plastics ends up in oceans and seas. That's a problem, because at sea it is harder to recover and it can take hundreds, or maybe even thousands, of years to completely break down and become harmless.

"The world is playing an important, high-stakes game and the welfare of everyone depends on being able to take the right steps now," Botti said.


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