EU to ban common single-use plastics to address environment and marine pollution

"Europe now has a legislative model to defend and promote at international level, given the global nature of the issue of marine pollution involving plastics."

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Image Credit: Knowridge Science Report

Europe is taking big strides in the fight against plastic pollution. The European Union announced a provisional agreement to ban common single-use plastic on Wednesday that would help reduce environment and marine pollution.

The European Parliament and Council reached this agreement after the EU’s executive arm introduced the proposal in May, EcoWatch reported. The bill, if it becomes law, “will reduce the environmental damage bill by €22 billion – the estimated cost of plastic pollution in Europe until 2030,” Belgian MEP Frédérique Ries said in a press release.

“Citizens expected only one thing from the European Union, that it adopts an ambitious directive against disposable plastics responsible for asphyxiation of the seas and oceans,” Reis said. “This is done with our agreement closed at 6:30 this morning. It will reduce the environmental damage bill by €22 billion – the estimated cost of plastic pollution in Europe until 2030.”

The single-use plastic to be banned in the EU includes:

  • Plastic cutlery (forks, knives, spoons and chopsticks)
  • Plastic plates
  • Plastic straws
  • Food containers made of expanded polystyrene
  • Beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene
  • Cups for beverages made of expanded polystyrene
  • Products made from oxo-degradable plastic (plastics that oxidize into micro fragments, which contributes to microplastic pollution)
  • Cotton bud sticks made of plastic

The provisional agreement also provides for:

  • A reinforced application of the polluter pays principle, in particular for tobacco, through the introduction of extended producer responsibility (EPR)
  • An EPR regime for fishing gear to ensure that manufacturers, and not fishermen, bear the costs of collecting nets lost in the sea
  • A 90% collection target for plastic bottles by 2029
  • A 25% target for recycled content in plastic bottles by 2025 and 30% by 2030
  • Mandatory labeling on the negative environmental impact of cigarettes with plastic filters thrown in the street, as well as for other products such as plastic cups, wet wipes and sanitary napkins
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The Environment Committee will vote on the bill in January 2019. In order for the provisional agreement to become law, both the Parliament and Council must approve it.

“Europe now has a legislative model to defend and promote at international level, given the global nature of the issue of marine pollution involving plastics,” Reis said. “This is essential for the planet and this is what millions of concerned Europeans are asking us to do.”

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