全球塑膠廢料（plastic waste）氾濫，其中在歐洲，回收率（recycling rate）只有不足三成。英國環境大臣（Environment Secretary）高文浩（Michael Gove）2月23日表示，計劃禁止使用即棄塑膠飲管，以保護海洋生態。
作為疑歐派（Eurosceptic）成員，高文浩把這項建議與英國脫歐（Brexit）相提並論，指出脫離歐盟（European Union, EU）後，英國更容易採取措施打擊塑膠污染。歐盟隨即駁斥相關言論，揚言考慮於今年夏季推出同類立法，搶先英國一步。
英國每年消耗850萬支塑膠飲管，不少遭棄置到海洋，它們在自然環境分解（break down）所需時間約為200年。聯合國（United Nations）警告，若亂拋垃圾情況持續，到了2050年，海洋塑膠數量將較魚類更多。
歐盟委員會（European Commission）副主席蒂默曼斯（Frans Timmermans）其後在微博twitter發帖，稱歐盟將於今夏針對即棄塑膠飲管立法，「比你們（英國）早一步，或許你能追上我們吧。」歐盟亦計劃於2030年前，達至區內所有塑膠均能重用（reusable）和回收（recyclable）。高文浩不甘示弱，反稱歐盟沒明確提到禁止膠飲管，故英國才是領先的一方。有大學講師批評高文浩言論失實，指出蘇格蘭（Scotland）地方政府早已宣佈，明年底前禁用膠飲管，故歐盟法例不會構成障礙（obstacle）。
British government announced a ban on disposable plastic straws
【譯文】Million tonnes of plastic waste is generated worldwide every year, but few countries are practicing recycling, among which the recycling rate in Europe is less than 30%. The British Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced on February 23 a ban on disposable plastic straws for the sake of marine conservation.
As a Eurosceptic person, Gove mentioned the proposed policy together with Brexit, saying that it would be easier for the country to tackle plastic waste after leaving EU. But EU shot back and said that it would be one step ahead of Britain to formulate similar legislation in the coming summer.
Britain consumes 8.5 million straws a year and many of them are not properly disposed of and end up into oceans finally, but it can take over 200 years for them to break down in the natural environment. The United Nations warned that if the levels of pollution continue, there might be more plastic than fish in oceans by 2050.
When asked whether to impose a ban on plastic straws during interviews, Gove said that a restriction on the use would be worth introducing as they brought about adverse impact to the marine ecology. He went on saying that enforcement of the ban could be hindered by EU legislation, as "one of the things about being inside the EU is that there are some steps that we might take environmentally but can't yet".
The European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans later pointed out on Twitter that EU was already planning to impose such ban in this summer, mocking that EU was "one step ahead of you (Britain). Maybe you can align with us", while it was also targeting to make all plastic packaging reusable and recyclable by 2030. Gove hit back by saying that EU had never clearly brought forward any proposal to ban plastic straws, so that Britain should be the first to introduce such policy. Yet, university lecturers criticized Gove for making false allegations, saying that the local government in Scotland had already proposed to ban plastic straws and would have the enforcement in place before end of next year, so EU legislation should not be an obstacle.
However, the proposed policy is deemed controversial as some thought that it would hurt those who cannot hold cups properly and need straws, especially the kids, elderly and people with disabilities. Also, using straws is believed to help reduce the damage to teeth caused by sugar and acidic beverages.
Timmermans advised people to consider using paper straws instead. Certain environmental groups suggested using reusable straws in order to reduce waste; meanwhile, they held a conservative view towards this one-size-fits-all policy.■龐嘉儀
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