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Parliamentary questions
21 January 2010
E-0104/10
WRITTEN QUESTION by Caroline Lucas (Verts/ALE) to the Commission

 Subject: Tackling the growing problem of non-biodegradable plastic waste in our oceans
 Answer(s) 

The world’s oceans have become blighted by vast swathes of plastic debris and rubbish. This destructive problem, known as ‘plastic soup’, occurs in the Pacific Ocean and, more recently, in the Atlantic Ocean. This floating mass of waste is not only deeply unsightly to our coastlines and marine areas, but is also incredibly threatening to marine wildlife. The UN Environmental Programme has stated that more than one million seabirds and more than 100 000 marine mammals die each year as a consequence of such pollution. They also estimate that every square mile in the Oceans contains 46 000 pieces of floating plastic.

The severity of this problem intensifies further due to the durability of modern plastic waste: non-biodegradable plastic can spend years floating in our seas. One example of such durable plastics is the everyday bathroom item of cotton-buds. Cotton-bud sticks, which can pass through even the most sophisticated sewage-screening systems, are part of this growing mountain of plastic flotsam that is threatening our fragile marine environment.

Will the Commission confirm that it is taking action to tackle this critical problem of growing ocean waste?

And will the Commission take the necessary step of banning such non-biodegradable plastic (found in cotton buds for example) in order to prevent such durable waste from ending up in the oceans in the first instance?

 OJ C 138 E, 07/05/2011
Last updated: 26 January 2010Legal notice