Kiral: A disposable plastic bag is an environmental disaster

On January 28, 2019, the Verkhovna Rada registered a draft law 9507 “On reducing the number of certain types of polyethylene waste in public circulation”. The initiator of the bill, MP Serhiy Kiral from the Samopomich Union faction explains,

“We are responding to global environmental challenges in tune with the rest of the world, including the European Parliament. The problem is extremely relevant for Ukraine. The power coalition is not fulfilling the plan of association with the European Union, which provides for the adoption of a number of legislative acts. Samopomich does not intend to delay the issues related to public health, health and safety of every Ukrainian.”

This bill is our version of the decision of the European Parliament, approved on October 24, 2018, which introduced a ban on the use of disposable polyethylene products, including a total ban on plastic bags and disposable plastic dishes, straws, coffee stirrers, and plastic sticks of balloons.

Serhiy Kiral notes, “If about one million ton of plastic accumulates on the territory of the European Union at the same time, then more than 150-160 million tons of polyethylene are already in the seas and oceans of the world. And about 8 to 10 million tons annually are added to this amount. According to recent studies, we see that more than 90% of the drinking water we consume contains polyethylene microgranules that we do not see. And they are not removed from our bodies, but accumulate there.”

In Ukraine, every Ukrainian uses (and consequently throws away) about half a thousand plastic bags a year. And the problem is that there is no need for such a quantity of disposable polyethylene, says Kiral.

“We are talking about disposable plastic bags, the ones that are distributed free of charge in stores and thrown away almost immediately when at home. These bags can be replaced with reusable bags or, as it is the case in many supermarkets today, with paper bags that can be sorted and quickly decomposed.”

Biodegradable bags have appeared on the market. An ordinary thin plastic bag decomposes for more than 100 years, unlike the biodegradable one, which needs only three years.

So, the bill 9507 actually prohibits the sale of these disposable, ultralight thin plastic bags and their use in retail sale in Ukraine. There are exceptions – when you need to pack fresh products, such as fish, meat or bulk products. Kiral notes,

“We should find a balance and think about safety, hygiene and sanitation. When solving one problem, we need to remember that it was precisely due to the emergence of safe packaging, as well as the cooling of food in the world that the epidemics and the diseases of digestive organs sharply decreased.

In addition, the bill introduces mandatory labelling of bags. Today, no one understands what a bag is made of (whether it is biodegradable or not, what components are there, etc.).

“The labelling will allow, on the one hand, classifying whether certain types of packages are subject to the law. And also shape the consciousness of citizens. Today, more and more Ukrainians prefer to purchase biodegradable or paper bags or use reusable bags – the ones that do not harm the environment.”

We cannot pave the way to Europe without fulfilling the obligations we have undertaken. With regard to environmental issues, we need to pass “green” laws which will bring Ukraine closer to the EU, will reduce harmful waste and will protect the environment.

“A group of experts – including various environmental and specialized public organizations – has been working on this bill for more than a year. We hope that the fact that so many people have co-authored it will guarantee a successful consideration of the draft law in the Verkhovna Rada.”

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