When European cities commit to fighting plastic bottle pollution


We don’t see it but we know it…. plastic bottles are a major source of ocean pollution. 52 billion liters of water is bottled every year in Europe, with a huge part of these bottles ending up in the environment, burnt or buried. Faced with this affliction and with the adoption of the European directive on the prohibition of certain single-use plastics for 2021, cities that are key actors in ecological transition are mobilizing. London, Hamburg, Barcelona and Paris have committed to the elimination of plastic bottles in public procurement, the development of water fountains and promotion of reusable alternatives and demonstrating that it is possible to act concretely to reduce plastic pollution.

Hamburg, Barcelona, London: plastic reduction initiatives

The commitment of Barcelona and Hamburg is reflected in changes to public procurement, measures that have been particularly incentivized for local and regional authorities, both in economic and environmental terms. While Hamburg boasts of having a plastic bottle free administration since January 2016 with accordance to the "guide to ecological provisions" which bans the purchase of plastic; bottles, cutlery, plates and coffee capsules, the Municipality of Barcelona for its part, has approved a similar measure: in all municipal services the use of single-use plastics must be replaced by sustainable alternatives such as the availability of fountains and carafes.

Since 2018 and motivated by the "Refill London" citizen campaign, London has also adopted specific measures to combat plastic waste. With the view of reducing plastic bottle use; public water fountains and several free water points have been installed, as well as the development of a large drinking water network.

Paris: the water challenge, zero plastic waste

Since 2015, Paris has committed to removing plastic bottles from City Hall and developing water fountains through a participatory program, these measures have been extended this year to further reduce its plastic footprint. Additionally, the city’s public water supply service, Eau de Paris, has launched "Parisian water, zero plastic waste" inviting Parisians to sign a manifesto aimed at reducing the use of single-use plastic bottles in their daily lives.

To achieve this, an "Action Tank", or working group, has been created to develop concrete and applicable solutions for the city of Paris, in which Surfrider Europe will actively participate. "The water of Paris, consumed from taps or fountains, is not only good for health, it is also a militant act. Drinking unpackaged water reduces waste by 7kg per year per person,"explains Célia Blauel, Deputy Mayor of Paris in charge of ecological transition, climate, environment, water sanitation and president of Eau de Paris.

Surfrider, the driving force behind the "Reset Your Habits" campaign

The measures adopted by Barcelona, Paris, and the European Union are the result of intense advocacy work by environmental NGOs including Surfrider Europe. While these European cities show their commitment to fighting against the pollution of plastic bottles, the role of associations on the ground is key to assisting them in the implementation of concrete actions adapted to their citizens.

The goal of the Reset Your Habits campaign is this. In promoting eco-friendly practices, including the use of reusable containers and encouraging cities to adopt preventative solutions through the good practice guide for a plastic bottle free Ocean, the association helps drive behavioral and societal change.

Reset Your Habits

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