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. EU states still have to back the directive, but is expected to go through in November and be law by the end of the year.
The proposed directive contains:
- A ban on plastic cutlery and plates, cotton buds, straws, drink-stirrers and balloon sticks by 2021, because there are readily available alternatives for them.
- A requirement that 90% of all plastic drinks bottles will need to be collected for recycling by 2025. Currently, bottles and their lids account for about 20% of all the sea plastic.
- A requirement that single-use plastic for food and drink containers “where no alternative exists”, like plastic cups, burger boxes and sandwich wrappers, are reduced by 25% in each country by 2025.
- An amendment requiring cigarette makers to reduce the plastic in cigarette filters by 50% by 2025 and 80% by 2030. Cigarette filters are a plastic pollutant that is common on beaches. A plan to tackle discarded fishing gear such as plastic lines and nets. They take about 600 years to biodegrade and account for nearly a third of all the marine litter found on EU beaches.
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.
One MEP said, if no action was taken, “by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans”.
The UK will have to incorporate the rules into national law if the ban becomes a fully-fledged directive before the end of a Brexit transition period.