Young people have a key role to play in driving society to reduce single-use plastics, MEP Miriam Dalli said on Saturday.

The Labour MEP said youths and children were often the leaders in driving environmental change and noted that while legislators were introducing laws to cut single-use plastics, behavioural change would occur even faster if communities took the initiative and got involved.

“Not all plastic is bad but a lot of that plastic can be replaced. With extra effort, tackling the large generation of plastic waste will become easier as producers and consumers switch to alternative products,” she said.

She welcomed plans to introduce a bottle return scheme and applauded outlets which had already introduced their own alternatives to plastic.

Dr Dalli noted that there was a lot of interest from young people in the matter.

“I see this at every meeting held and activity I attend to. In meetings at schools and other places, students ask how they can do their part in helping to clean up the environment and reduce plastic use”.

Plastic makes up almost 85 per cent off all marine litter, and just 10 single-use plastic items make up more than 40 per cent of waste found on European beaches.

The European Union has plans to ban a number of these single-use plastic items in the near future and introduce strict restrictions on others. Dr Dalli, who is environment coordinator for the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, has worked on amendments for such laws.

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