Considering that we are in the middle of a plastics crisis, action must be taken to curb the destruction caused by our handling of this resource.According to research, more damage is to the environment, hence introducing the Single-Use Plastics (SUP) Directive. The SUP Directive is a wide-reaching rule that seeks to minimise marine plastic pollution. Adopted in June 2019, its main aim was to prevent the effect of certain plastic products on the environment, particularly the aquatic environment and human health. The Directive also promotes the transition to a circular economy with inventive and sustainable business models, products, and materials.
In Europe alone, more than 25 million tons of plastic waste are produced yearly, yet less than 30 per cent of the plastic waste is recycled, and 85 per cent of marine pollution is said to be from plastic waste. In 2020, plastic waste exports to Turkey, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia from European Union (EU) nations continued at greater levels. The 2018 EU Plastic Strategy focused on the ten most commonly found plastic items littered in the European coastal areas. And in 2019, the union embraced the SUP Directive with efforts to curb plastic pollution from land to sea.
To effectively implement the Directive, various measures had to be passed across, including:
Product ban – An outright ban for some selected single-use plastic items for which non-plastic alternatives are available was applied. The single-use plastic items comprise cotton bud sticks, cutlery, plates, straws, stirrers, sticks for balloons, cups, and food and beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene and Oxo-degradable plastic products.
Consumption reduction – Measures were set to minimise the consumption of plastic food containers and beverage cups and precisely mark and label particular items.
Clean-up litter costs – Extended Producer Responsibility schemes to cover the cost of clean-up litter were implemented.
The target for separate collection – A 90% separate collection target for plastic bottles by 2029 (77% by 2025) and the introduction of design necessities to link caps to bottles was instigated. Additionally, a target was to incorporate 25% of recycled plastic in PET bottles by 2025 and 30% in all plastic bottles as of 2030.
The SUP legislation has helped the environment by reducing pollution brought by single-use plastics around the European beaches by ensuring more material stays within a closed loop and out of oceans and other marine sources.
In complying with the SUP Directive and addressing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal, Refork has developed new resolutions that enable individuals to replace plastic materials with various other products, thus preventing more plastic pollution. The company combines waste and natural resources with the current technology to create new biodegradable materials that do not leave behind any microplastics or harmful chemicals.
Refork’s primary material is wood flour, a by-product of wood processing. It manufactures wooden cutlery, a legit alternative to plastic since it can be hand-washed, re-used, or composted at home after use. Other options include being discarded in the trash bin and incinerated in 2022.