Single-use plastics ban approved by European Parliament
On October 24th 2018, the European Parliament voted for a complete ban on a range of single-use plastics across the union in a bid to stop pollution of the oceans.
MEPs backed a ban on plastic cutlery and plates, cotton buds, straws, drink-stirrers and balloon sticks. These items were chosen because there are readily available alternatives for them.
The proposal also calls for a reduction in single-use plastic for food and drink containers like plastic cups.
Items, "where no alternative exists" will still have to be reduced by 25% in each country by 2025. Examples given include burger boxes and sandwich wrappers.
One MEP said, if no action was taken, "by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans".
The European Commission proposed a ban in May, following a surge in public support attributed to documentaries such as David Attenborough's BBC Blue Planet series.
The measure still has to clear some procedural hurdles, but is expected to go through. The EU hopes it will go into effect across the bloc by 2021.
The UK will also have to incorporate the rules into national law if the ban becomes a fully-fledged directive before the end of a Brexit transition period.
MEPs also tacked on amendments to the plans for cigarette filters, a plastic pollutant that is common litter on beaches. Cigarette makers will have to reduce the plastic by 50% by 2025 and 80% by 2030.
Another ambitious target is to ensure 90% of all plastic drinks bottles are collected for recycling by 2025. Currently, bottles and their lids account for about 20% of all the sea plastic, the European Parliament report said.