MEPs have approved a ban on throwaway plastics to be implemented across the EU by 2021.
Plastic straws, cotton buds, plates and cutlery are among the items named in plastic reduction measures approved by the European Parliament on Wednesday. Throwaway plastics, which are single use and not typically recycled, make up over 70 per cent of marine litter.
Bags and packaging made from oxo-degradable plastics and fast food containers made from expanded polystyrene are already subject to a ban beginning in 2021.
Member States’ consumption of plastic items not covered by the throwaway plastics ban, including burger boxes, ice cream tubs and fruit containers, must be reduced by at least 25 per cent by 2025; while easily recyclable plastics such as bottles are to be separated and recycled at a rate of 90 per cent by 2025.
In addition to throwaway plastics MEPs agreed to reduce waste from tobacco products, particularly cigarette filters containing plastic, by 50 per cent by 2025 and 80 per cent by 2030. Member States will be responsible for ensuring tobacco companies cover the costs of waste collection for tobacco-based litter, including the costs of litter collection, transport and treatment.
The regulations will impel Member States to collect at least 50 per cent of lost and abandoned fishing gear, which makes up 27 per cent of waste on European beaches, per year; with a target of 15 per cent to be recycled by 2025. Discarded fishing gear, along with throwaway plastics, causes hazards to wildlife and contributes to the infiltration of microplastics into the ecosystem.
Rapporteur Frédérique Ries said: “We have adopted the most ambitious legislation against [throwaway 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.”