EU agrees single-use plastic ban

The EU has reached a provisional agreement between its council and parliament to ban single-use plastic products from the entering the European market when alternatives are easily available and affordable.

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Plastic cotton buts, cutlery, plates, straws and drink stirrers are among the products targeted by the ban, which is among a series of measures to be included in a new single-use plastics directive.

The EU describes this as the “most ambitious legal instrument at a global level addressing marine litter”, which also outlines plans to boost design and labelling requirements, and introduce tougher obligations for producers.

The directive must now be formally approved by the EU parliament and council, at which point the new framework will be published and member states will have two years to implement it.

“When one year you can bring your fish home in a plastic bag, and the next year you are bringing that bag home in a fish, we have to work hard and fast,” the EU’s environment commissioner, Karmenu Vella, said.

“So I am happy that with the agreement – we have taken a big stride towards reducing the amount of single-use plastic items in our economy, our ocean and ultimately our bodies."

The new directive is based on commitments made by the EU last May to cut down on the 10 most common single-use plastic products littering Europe’s beaches and seas.

It is estimated that the new measures will avoid the equivalent of 3.4 million tonnes of CO2 entering the atmosphere, and prevent environmental damages costing €22bn (£19.8bn) by 2030.

They are also forecast to save consumers approximately €6.5bn, and contribute to the EU’s Circular Economy Package to ensure resources are used in a more sustainable way.

The Directive on port reception facilities for waste from ships, which was agreed provisionally by the European parliament and council last week, complements the new measures.

European Commission first vice-president, Frans Timmermans, said: “Europeans are conscious that plastic waste is an enormous problem and the EU as a whole has shown true courage in addressing it, making us the global leader in tackling plastic marine litter.” 

 

Image credit | iStock
Author: 

Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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