Who makes cutlery in the US

Plastic bags, plastic cups, plastic cutlery : The USA brims with plastic, Europe saves

Anyone in New York who is self-respecting and who likes pizza eats at Lombardi's. The traditional restaurant in Little Italy has received numerous awards in the 113 years of its existence and is proud of them. Therefore, the pizza does not come on boring wooden boards or plates, but is served on cake platters at the table. However, it is not eaten from fine china, but from disposable paper plates. Customers who order tap water must drink from plastic cups.

What would be conceivable at best in snacks in Germany is everyday life in the USA. In many restaurants there are plastic cutlery and plates, even in eco-chains salads or soups are served in plastic bowls. Drinks are available from non-returnable bottles.

Not only US President Donald Trump, who to this day denies global climate change, also many of his compatriots care little about the climate and garbage. Not only when eating, but also when shopping. 100 billion plastic bags are used every year in the land of opportunity. For a quick purchase in the supermarket, you can easily carry eight plastic bags home - cashiers put two bags inside each other to be on the safe side.

Germans hold back

This is now unthinkable in Germany. If you insist on a plastic bag in the store, you not only come out as a polluter - you also have to pay. Since retail committed to reducing the amount of plastic bags two years ago, most shops have been charging money for the carrier bag. That is having an effect. In the past year, every German citizen used statistically only 29 plastic bags - after 45 in the previous year. 2.4 billion plastic carrier bags were put into circulation in 2017, 1.3 billion fewer than in the previous year.
Nonetheless, environmentalists warn that greater efforts are needed. On Tuesday, Deutsche Umwelthilfe protested against plastic packaging with a giant whale in Berlin. The Federal Environment Agency and the Greens are calling for a tax on plastic. The EU Commission wants to ban plastic plates, cutlery, cups and straws in order to protect the environment and animals.

Rewe and Lidl throw numerous single-use products off the shelf

Dealers in Germany don't want to wait that long. Rewe announced on Wednesday that it would in future forego the sale of disposable plastic drinking straws. As a result, 42 million disposable drinking straws could be saved each year in the approximately 6000 stores of the Rewe, Penny and Toom Baumarkt brands. On the same day, the discounter Lidl announced that it would be removing single-use plastic items such as cutlery and drinking straws from its range by the end of 2019. Edeka is also developing reusable items as an alternative to previous single-use items. Above all, plastic plates, plastic cutlery and the disposable product drinking straw are in the focus of retailers. As a typical disposable product, plastic straws are only used 20 minutes on average before they end up in the garbage. According to the organization "Seas at Risk", around 100,000 tons of plastic enter the sea from the EU every year. In the EU, 36.4 billion drinking straws are consumed annually, along with 16 billion coffee mugs, 46 billion disposable bottles and other plastic from packaging and cigarette filters.

Kenya: Four years imprisonment for plastic bag users

According to the United Nations, only nine percent of the plastic produced worldwide has so far been recycled, and many shampoo or beverage bottles end up on landfills and in the sea. Environmentalists see themselves confirmed by reports such as the death of a green sea turtle in Thailand in mid-June, whose stomach was so full of plastic, rubber bands and balloon fragments that it could no longer take in food. Kenya, whose coasts have also been flooded with plastic waste, has now responded. Since last year, plastic bags have not been allowed to be sold or used there. Violations can result in sentences of up to four years in prison or fines of up to $ 40,000.

Europe is also acting

Europe does not go that far. But at least something is happening with the plastic bag. While customers in Great Britain and Austria have long been asked to pay for plastic bags, southern countries are now following suit. In Spain, Mallorca is leading the way in the fight against the flood of plastic. The regional government of the Balearic Islands, to which Mallorca and Ibiza belong, recently introduced a law to reduce or banned plastic products in the holiday paradise. Even the sale of the popular disposable coffee capsules made of aluminum or plastic is prohibited. The plastic ban, which should come into force in 2020, will also affect party tourists in the “Ballermann” district: straws, drinking vessels and party dishes will then only be made of compostable materials. Since the beginning of this month, the following applies across Spain: plastic bags cost money. According to statistics, every Spaniard has used more than 100 bags a year, but only ten percent has been recycled.

Greece: From Saul to Paul

In Greece you have to pay four cents including VAT for a thin mini plastic bag at the supermarket checkout since the beginning of the year. The environmental tax was initially ridiculed or criticized as another rip-off of the left-wing government by Alexis Tsipras. But then the miracle occurred: the Greeks, who were not very environmentally conscious, changed their attitude very quickly and have been shopping with their own large bags ever since. The consumption of plastic bags is said to have decreased by 80 percent. Previously, it was 250 to 300 bags per year and per capita. What has not been resolved, however, is the equally serious problem of pet water bottles and the drinking cups for the "freddo", the cold coffee that the Greeks drink in large quantities every day. This plastic ends up in landfills and in the Aegean Sea.

Australians fight for the disposable bag - also with their fists

But Greece shows that a rethink is possible. There are also initial tendencies in the USA. Plastic bags can now be returned to stores where they are recycled. However, it is used rather hesitantly in everyday life. One-way bottles and beverage cans can be dropped in at return stations in New York and the receipts can then be redeemed in shops. But for most citizens that is nothing. They prefer to put bottles and cans on the side of the road for the weekly garbage collection and leave their empties to bottle collectors. But nobody in the USA would pay money for plastic bags. Just as little as in Australia. The attempt by the supermarket chains Woolworths and Coles to stop selling disposable bags caused a riot at the beginning of the week: customers cursed, cursed and threw goods on the floor, and a saleswoman was strangled. with dpa

Now new: We give you 4 weeks of Tagesspiegel Plus! To home page