Monaco has a dream. It is a dream of a life without plastic. It is a dream to free the oceans of environmental hazards. Increasing everyone’s awareness was the important first step. It has been followed now by a firm set of actions to reduce the dependence on plastic in our lives. And each action is followed by another strategic set of initiatives. The momentum is firmly established, and examples of successes abound.
Take for example the Métropole Hotel. No more straws with our cokes! With smoothies there is a new biodegradable straw – and only one, not two as before. These straws, made of corn starch, cost the Hotel a bit more, but it is worth it. The Hotel management are making a determined effort to show leadership. And customers appreciate it. There is a wave of support for these initiatives and Stars’N’Bars and Rascasse in turn are also waving the flag with the adoption of bio-straws. And it’s not just straws where the Métropole are focusing their efforts. Included are measures to reduce the number of disposable items in general: cocktail mixers are now in glass instead of plastic, place mats under glasses are now made of washable silicon-rubber. And the Metropole is doing more and more to protect the environment, be it in the form of flow control on taps, in order to conserve water, or be it in the form of how and how often linen is washed.
And what about plastic bags. Monaco has been leading the change for years now with awareness campaigns of the evils of plastic bags. This has made a huge difference in shopping habits. The war waged against plastic bags is systematically, campaign by campaign, being won. March 2015 in Monaco saw a landmark conference on Plastic in the Mediterranean. This set the stage for Prince Albert’s proclamation that in 2016 the use of plastic shopping bags in the Principality would be forbidden. The law came into effect on June 1, 2016. By September the war on plastic intensified with a publicity campaign. There was a loyal following by Monegasque institutions distributing information convincing people to shop with non-disposable bags. Remember the cotton shopping bag campaign – “A Bag For Life”?
By 2017 plastic was starting to be widely regarded as an enemy of the environment, and all sorts of plastic packaging started to disappear from stores in Monaco and the streets. Plastic packaging for fruit, bags for picking up after doggies disappeared – all replaced by biodegradable equivalents. Tougher and tougher is the clear trend established for the regulations. By 2025 it is planned that not a single bag in the Principality will have less than 60 % biodegradable material.
And just wait for the next battleground. Let’s get rid of all those throw-away plastic utensils. Monaco is already well on top of that. From Jan 1, 2020, bye-bye plastic utensils.
Monaco’s efforts are bearing fruit. And Monaco is having an influence on the rest of Europe. Now the European Commission are gearing up to prohibit a whole range of plastics utensils and plastic plates. And they are also posing the important question: why only a third of plastic bottles are recycled? The reign of plastic is over, surely. And the Mediterranean and all the Oceans and marine environments, if they have voices can rejoice.