Single-use plastic items such as plates, cutlery, straws, balloon sticks and cotton buds will be banned in the EU under plans adopted on Wednesday.
These products, which are said to make up over 70% of marine litter, will be banned from the EU market from 2021, under draft plans approved by the European Parliament.
The report was first proposed in May and it has been adopted by the European Parliament with 571 votes to 53 and 34 abstentions.
As part of the plans, the consumption of several other items, for which no alternative exists, will have to be reduced by member states by least 25% by 2025. This includes single-use burger boxes, sandwich boxes or food containers for fruits, vegetables, desserts or ice creams. Member states will be required to draft national plans to encourage the use of products suitable for multiple use, as well as re-using and recycling.
Other plastics, such as beverage bottles, will have to be collected separately and recycled at a rate of 90% by 2025.
Member states should also ensure that at least 50% of lost or abandoned fishing gear containing plastic is collected per year, with a recycling target of at least 15% by 2025. Fishing gear represents 27% of waste found on Europe’s beaches.
Belgian Member of the European Parliament Frédérique Ries said: “We have adopted the most ambitious legislation against single-use plastics. It is up to us now to stay the course in the upcoming negotiations with the [European] Council, due to start as early as November.
“Today’s vote paves the way to a forthcoming and ambitious directive. It is essential in order to protect the marine environment and reduce the costs of environmental damage attributed to plastic pollution in Europe, estimated at €22 billion by 2030.”
However, FoodDrinkEurope, the organisation of Europe’s food and drink industry, believes there was a missed opportunity to better frame the scope of the proposal.
In a statement, it said: “FoodDrinkEurope is concerned that the outcome of today’s plenary vote fails to address the root cause of littering. FoodDrinkEurope believes that preventing litter should be the cornerstone of a European policy approach to waste management. This must be taken forward through a comprehensive, shared and holistic approach to education, innovation and infrastructure and law enforcement.”
European Bioplastics (EUBP), the European association representing the interests of the bioplastics industry, also raised concerns.
“EUBP considers the parliament’s decision to restrict the use of single-use cutlery and plates as not sufficiently considering the reality of food consumption in Europe,” it said in a statement. “In certain closed-loop contexts, such as canteens, air travel, or sport and music events, these are an indispensable and efficient solution to guarantee safety and hygiene for food and drinks while ensuring at the same time waste collection and recycling.
“Biodegradable certified compostable plastics fulfil Europe’s rigorous requirements and standards for health and safety and can be recycled organically together with the food waste.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019