SP: 'EU must tackle problem of floating plastic as sea pollutant'

13 August 2008

SP: 'EU must tackle problem of floating plastic as sea pollutant'

Erik Meijer“The European Union should be working with other organisations to find a solution to the problem of plastic floating in international waters,” says SP Euro-MP Erik Meijer. In the Pacific Ocean the plastic would be sufficient to form an island bigger than France, Spain and Portugal combined. Bottles, bags and remnants of cargo thrown overboard come mostly from North America and circulate, clotting together in the ocean currents, between Japan and the United States.

The material comes for the most part from land-based sources, with perhaps 20% coming from ships. Environmental organisations call the whirlpool of waste “the world's biggest rubbish dump”. The SP wants the European Commission to explain why Brussels has reacted so dismissively to requests for action and even publicly doubted the existence of a problem, despite this having been confirmed by scientists. A spokesperson for Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas told Dutch daily newspaper De Volkskrant that the Commissioner did not see it as a European issue and called the existence of the problem in the Atlantic Ocean “a hypothesis”. The Dutch chemical industry's association VNCI meanwhile denies any responsibility and refuses to allow the issue to be put on the agenda of its European umbrella organisation.

SP Euro-MP Erik Meijer has put a series of written questions to the Commission asking whether they have any knowledge of the problem closer to home, for example in the Mediterranean, Baltic or North Seas. The SP wants to bring pressure to bear for the publication of data regarding the origin of the plastic waste, so that the extent to which Europe is involved in this pollution can be known. As well as more understanding of the problem Meijer is urging that the phenomenon be combated and wants to know what the EU can contribute to clean-up and prevention.

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