The European Union is making is creating history by passing a proposed ban on single-use plastic items such as plates, cutlery, straws, balloon sticks or cotton buds. Members of the European Union added to the original bill adding products made of oxo-degradable plastics, such as bags or packaging and fast-food containers made of expanded polystyrene to the list of banned items.
The ban will go into place in 2021. Single-use plastic products make up around 80% of ocean litter and is the cause of high numbers of marine life premature death. Plastic is slow to break down and during its decomposition process, breaks into smaller and smaller pieces making plastic retrieval harder and harder.
Plastic rubbish now entering the human food chain
There is evidence that plastic is entering the human food chain via consumption of marine life who had previously digested plastic waste. According to a recent study from Plymouth University, ocean plastic pollution affects more than 700 marine species and causes the earth of around 100 million marine mammals every year.
In addition to the ban on plastic, the parliament has passed a motion that requires member states to reduce items for which there is no alternative such single-use burger boxes, sandwich boxes or food containers for fruits, vegetables, desserts or ice creams by at least 25% by 2025.
Each member state of the EU is required to draft their own national action plan to encourage the use of multi-use products as well as recycling programs. Under the same plan, plastic bottles will be required to be collected separately and recycled at a rate of 90% by 2025.
Cigarette butts second biggest single use litter item
The union members also agreed that the issue of cigarette waste, mainly cigarette butts that contain filters needs to be addressed. A single cigarette can pollute between 500 and 1000 liters of water, and when thrown on the ground takes up to twelve years to disintegrate.
Cigarette butts are classified as the second most littered single-use item, under the new plain cigarette companies will be required to pay for the retrieval and clean up of cigarette waste. The European Union says it will aim to reduce cigarette waste by 50% by 2025 and 80% by 2030.
Another huge marine litter producer in Europe is lost fishing gear, according to the EU parliament, lost fishing gear makes up 27% of the litter found on European beaches. The EU will work with fishing gear producers to reduce the amount of plastic in their products and create programs for lost fishing gear waste retrieval.
Frédérique Ries (ALDE, BE), rapporteur for the bill 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 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 euros by 2030.”
Via: European Parliament