Italian islands ban plastic cups and plates

Anyone caught with single-use plastic utensils could be fined up to $600

Oceans are one step closer being a bit cleaner as Isole Tremiti, an archipelago off the east coast of Italy, has imposed new measures against plastic waste.

From 1 May 2018, the Italian islands have banned the use of plastic plates, cups and other utensils. Breaking the new restrictions can lead to a fine between $60 to $600. At the same time, visitors are encouraged to switch to reusable or biodegradable picnicware.

Italian archipelago Isole Tremit has banned the use of plastic utensils — Shutterstock Italian islands ban plastic cups and plates
The Italian archipelago Isole Tremit has banned the use of plastic utensils — Shutterstock

“Day after day we’re seeing humans kill our sea and we had to do something, immediately,” said the archipelago’s mayor, Antonio Fentini, who has imposed the new policy.

The mayor is reacting to a recent study conducted by Greenpeace that suggests the amount of plastic waste in the local waters is almost four times higher than the average in Italy.

The research revealed that in the concentration of plastics in the waters of Tremiti is 2.2 items per metre cubed of water, most of it polyethylene used to make bags, bottles and other packaging.

The average concentration measured across 19 different sites around Italy was 0.52 items/m3.

However, the figures don’t indicate that the Tremiti, with their 500 inhabitants and thousands of seasonal visitors, are producing more plastic waste that other places in Italy.

Greenpeace points out that the plastic particles are often weft by currents towards the Italian islands, resulting in patches of accumulated pollution.

This means the Tremiti islands can’t protect their crystal waters alone.

“I’m calling on the mayors of all islands and coastal areas to follow suit,” said Fentini. “Let’s all try to do some good for our planet.”

Despite Fintini willing to replace them with glass, the measures don’t restrict the use of plastic bottles.

Italy has been active in the protection of its environment as the country was one of the first in Europe to ban plastic shopping bags completely in 2011.