Efforts to tackle plastic waste were stepped up in 2021. In July, 10 single-use plastic items that have long blighted Europe’s beaches were outlawed by the EU – good news for bathers and marine life.
The French government went further. It said ‘au revoir’ to plastic packaging for fruit and vegetables, giving retailers until the new year to find alternatives. Spain did the same, with a slightly more lenient 2023 deadline. The UK also mooted a ban on some single-use plastics, although not enough for campaigners.
There was also progress in tackling the plastic that’s already out there. A mission to clean up the Great Pacific garbage patch launched in October, and brought its first haul back to land. And in July, researchers discovered that bacteria living inside a cow’s gut can break down several types of plastic.