Single-use plastic products such as straws and drink stirrers may be banned across much of Europe under proposals put forward by the European Union (EU).
With the amount of harmful plastic litter in oceans and seas growing ever greater, the European Commission (EC) is planning new EU-wide rules to target the ten single-use plastic products most often found on Europe’s beaches and seas. These products are said to account for 70% of the marine litter in Europe.
Where alternatives are readily available and affordable, the EC has proposed a ban on plastic cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws and drink stirrers. It said single-use drinks containers made with plastic will only be allowed on the market if their caps and lids remain attached.
As part of proposals, member states will be obliged to collect 90% of single-use plastic drinks bottles by 2025.
The EC said producers will help cover the costs of waste management and clean up. The industry will also be given incentives to develop less polluting alternatives.
The proposals follow a strategy announced earlier this year which aims to make all plastic packaging in the EU recyclable by 2030.
EC first vice-president Frans Timmermans said: “This Commission promised to be big on the big issues and leave the rest to member states. Plastic waste is undeniably a big issue and Europeans need to act together to tackle this problem, because plastic waste ends up in our air, our soil, our oceans, and in our food.
“Today’s proposals will reduce single-use plastics on our supermarket shelves through a range of measures. We will ban some of these items, and substitute them with cleaner alternatives so people can still use their favourite products.”
EC vice-president Jyrki Katainen added: “Plastic can be fantastic, but we need to use it more responsibly. Single-use plastics are not a smart economic or environmental choice, and today’s proposals will help business and consumers to move towards sustainable alternatives.
“This is an opportunity for Europe to lead the way, creating products that the world will demand for decades to come, and extracting more economic value from our precious and limited resources. Our collection target for plastic bottles will also help to generate the necessary volumes for a thriving plastic recycling industry.”
The EC said that having one set of rules for the whole EU market will create a springboard for European companies to develop economies of scale and be more competitive in the booming global marketplace for sustainable products.
The proposals will now go to the European Parliament and Council for adoption.
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