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EU proposes ban on straws and other single-use plastics

EU proposes ban on straws and other single-use plastics
Source: Michiel de Gooijer

With the ever increasing amount of harmful plastic litter in oceans, the European Commission targets the 10 single-use plastic products that constitute 70% of all marine litter items.

The European Union is waging war on Single-use plastics

With the amount of harmful plastic litter in oceans and seas growing ever greater, on the 28 May 2018, the European Commission proposed new EU-wide rules to target the 10 single-use plastic products most often found on Europe’s beaches and seas, as well as lost and abandoned fishing gear.

Europe plans to ban the 10 single-use plastic products that constitute 70% of all marine litter itemsSource: Facebook BrightVibes

10 single-use plastic products are responsible for 70% of all marine litter

In its press release the European Commission states that "Together these constitute 70% of all marine litter items. The new rules are proportionate and tailored to get the best results. This means different measures will be applied to different products. Where alternatives are readily available and affordable, single-use plastic products will be banned from the market.For products without straight-forward alternatives, the focus is on limiting their use through a national reduction in consumption; design and labelling requirements and waste management/clean-up obligations for producers."

Plastics are even reaching people's lungs and dinner tables, with micro-plastics in the air, water and food having an unknown impact on their health. Tackling the plastics problem is a must and it can bring new opportunities for innovation, competitiveness and job creation.
Across the world, plastics make up 85% of marine litter. Plastics are even reaching people’s lungs and dinner tables, with micro-plastics in the air, water and food having an unknown impact on their health. Tackling the plastics problem is a must and it can bring new opportunities for innovation, competitiveness and job creation. Source: Michiel de Gooijer

Companies will be given a competitive edge

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. By setting up re-use systems (such as deposit refund schemes), companies can ensure a stable supply of high quality material. In other cases, the incentive to look for more sustainable solutions can give companies the technological lead over global competitors.

For fishing gear, which accounts for 27% of all beach litter, the Commission aims to complete the existing policy framework with producer responsibility schemes for fishing gear containing plastic. Producers of plastic fishing gear will be required to cover the costs of waste collection from port reception facilities and its transport and treatment. They will also cover the costs of awareness-raising measures.
Fishing gear – which accounts for 27% of all beach litter – is also included For fishing gear, which accounts for 27% of all beach litter, the Commission aims to complete the existing policy framework with producer responsibility schemes for fishing gear containing plastic. Producers of plastic fishing gear will be required to cover the costs of waste collection from port reception facilities and its transport and treatment. They will also cover the costs of awareness-raising measures. Source: Pixabay

Massive environmental and economic benefits

According to the EU, the proposed Directive will bring both environmental and economic benefits. The new measures will for example:

  • avoid the emission of 3.4 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent;
  • avoid environmental damages which would cost the equivalent of €22 billion by 2030;
  • save consumers a projected €6.5 billion.

10 bits of plastic you can quit today Feeling powerless about plastic pollution? It is understandable given the size of the problem. However, there are many things we - as consumers - do to to help fight plastic pollution. Here are 10 awesome tips. Source: Facebook / BrightVibes

Next Steps

The Commission’s proposals will now go to the European Parliament and Council for adoption. The Commission urges the other institutions to treat this as a priority file, and to deliver tangible results for Europeans before the elections in May 2019.

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