Single-use plastic cup on beach Photo: Øyvind Holmstad

Spanish tourist islands set to ban single-use plastics

February 1st, 2018

The cities of Mallorca, Menorca, and Ibiza are set to ban all single-use plastics in an effort to save the tourism industry on the Balearic Islands.

The three tourist destinations are all included in plans from the Government of the Balearic Islands to outlaw the sale of single-use plastics by 2020. The ban will apply to items such plastic cups, plates, cutlery, and straws, coffee capsules and disposable razors.

The Balearic Government has said that such plastic items will have to be replaced by easily recyclable versions or biodegradable alternatives. The ban is a direct response by the regional government to the threat posed by single-use plastic items to the island’s tourism industry as rubbish litters their beaches.

The new law also states that wet wipes must be clearly labelled to ensure that the public does not flush them and potentially cause damage to the sever systems. Last year, a build-up of wet wipes is believed to have caused a rupture in the sewer systems in the popular Cala de Bou area of Ibiza.

Single-use plastic cup on beach Photo: Øyvind Holmstad
Single-use plastic cup on beach Photo: Øyvind Holmstad

The move is the latest by the region’s government in its attempt to make the tourist destinations more sustainable. It has fought to limit the impact of mass tourism on Ibiza, Mallorca, Menorca and other smaller islands, including putting a cap on tourist beds and increasing the daily tax paid by visitors.

According to a Greenpeace report released last year, the Mediterranean region is awash with 1,455 tonnes of plastic. According to the report, 96 per cent of floating litter sampled in the Mediterranean is plastic. The report goes on to state that between 21 and 54 per cent of all global microplastic particles are located in the Mediterranean basin.

European Recycling Strategy

The EU announced last month that it plans to make all plastic packaging on the European market recyclable by 2030 in a move toward a truly circular economy in the bloc.

The European Commission will present legal proposals later this year to limit the use of single-use plastics and restrict the use of microplastics in the likes of soaps and cosmetic products.

According to the Commission, Europeans generate 25 million tonnes of plastic waste every year, less than 30 per cent of which is collected for recycling.

The strategy will also put new rules on packaging to improve the recyclability of plastics used in the European market and increase the demand for recycled plastic.

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