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The EU Parliament Approves a Landmark Ban on Single-use Plastic Products

Monday, 28 January 2019
On 24 October 2018 the European Parliament overwhelmingly vote to enact a total ban on a variety of single-used plastic products in an effort to tackle effectively the marine pollution. Earlier in May 2018, the European Commission had proposed a list of nine single-use plastic items with readily available alternatives to be banned from the EU Market from 2021 and to be replaced with more environmentally sustainable materials. These nine single-use plastic items, which account for over 70% of marine litter, include plastic cotton buds, forks, knives, spoons, sticks, plates, straws, drink stirrers and sticks for balloons.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) at the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) took a step further and extended the afore-mentioned ban on oxo-degradable plastic products and fast food containers made out of polystyrene. Under the proposed legislation, the consumption of other plastic items, for which no alternatives exist, has to be reduced in each Member State by 25% by 2025. More specifically, this reduction measure targets single-use burger boxes, sandwich boxes or food containers for fruits, vegetables, desserts or ice creams. The European Parliament also called the Member States to draft national plans in order to encourage the use of products suitable for multiple use, as well as re-using and recycling. In this context, other plastics such as beverage bottles will have to be collected separately and recycled at a rate of 90 % by 2025.

Another consumption reduction target is to ensure that the cigarette filters containing plastic will be reduced by 50% by 2025 and 80% by 2030. It is to be noted that the cigarette butts constitute the second most littered single-use plastic items while one cigarette butt can pollute between 500 and 1000 litres of water.

In addition, MEPs called the Member States to 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. Notably, it is to be mentioned that fishing gear represents 27% of waste found on Europe’s beaches.

Furthermore, MEPs called the producers of cigarettes and fishing gear to take extended responsibility regarding the waste management of their products. In particular, the tobacco firms were requested to cover the costs of transport, treatment and litter collection of their products. Similarly, the manufactures of fishing gear need to contribute to meeting the recycling target.

The European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, adopted the report drafted by the MEP Frédérique Ries with  571 votes for, 53 against and 34 abstentions.
Frédérique Ries stated: “We have adopted the most ambitious legislation against single-use plastics.” She added: “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.”

Next, the European Parliament will enter into negotiations with Council when EU ministers will have set their own position on the file.

Source: European Parliament
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