EU bans single-use plastic in fight against marine litter

The European Parliament has adopted ambitious measures to reduce marine litter by banning commonly used throwaway plastic products such as plastic cutlery, plates and straws.

According to the European Commission, the new rules – which were adopted by the European Parliament last week – are part of an overall EU plastics strategy that seeks to have all plastic packaging on the EU market as reusable or recyclable by 2030. The rules are also essential element of the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan because they will stimulate the production and use of sustainable alternatives to avoid marine litter.

The new ban applies to the ten most found single-use plastic products on European beaches: cotton bud sticks, cutlery, plates, straws, stirrers, and sticks for balloons, as well as cups, food and beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene and all products made of oxo-degradable plastic.

In addition to banning products, the new rules set out clear measures to tackle marine litter. These include measures to reduce the consumption of food containers and beverage cups made of plastic and schemes to cover the cost of cleaning up litter such as tobacco filters and fishing gear.

The rules also include a 90 per cent separate collection target for plastic bottles by 2029, design requirements to connect caps to bottles, and a target to incorporate 30 per cent of recycled plastic in PET bottles as from 2030.

EU First Vice-President Frans Timmermans praised the new rules. “Today we have taken an important step to reduce littering and plastic pollution in our oceans and seas. We got this, we can do this. Europe is setting new and ambitious standards, paving the way for the rest of the world.”

Image credit: Paolo Margari via Flickr

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