On 24 October, the majority of the EU Parliament backed the plastic ban proposal made by the EU Commission back in May 2018.
Concretely, the ban tackles the following:
- Single-use cutlery, cotton buds, straws and stirrers are to be banned from the EU market by 2021.
- Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) also added the following to the list: products made of oxo-degradable plastics, such as bags or packaging and fast-food containers made of expanded polystyrene.
- An extension to 2023 has been given for single-use plastic cutlery and plates used by schools and hospitals.
- Other items, for which no alternative exists, will have to be reduced by member states by at least 25% by 2025.
- Examples are single-use boxes for burgers and sandwiches or food containers for fruits, vegetables, desserts or ice creams.
- Other plastics, such as beverage bottles, will have to be collected separately and recycled at a rate of 90% by 2025.
- Cigarette filters containing plastic need to be reduced by 50% by 2025 and 80% by 2030.
- Member states will be expected to collect at least 50% of lost or abandoned fishing gear containing plastic, recycling at least 15% by 2025.
- Extended producer responsibility: producers of tobacco products, fishing gear and other items will be made responsible to cover the costs of waste collection for those products, including transport, treatment and litter collection.
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The Council will now vote on its position, after which the Parliament will start negotiations with member states. A final approval is expected prior to the European elections in May 2019.
The ten selected single-use plastic items are said to make up 70% of all plastic litter found on beaches and in seas and oceans. Plastic decomposes slowly, causing it to accumulate in seas and oceans. Marine animals consume the plastic waste or get caught into it and often die. Plastic residue, including microplastics, persist in for example fish and shellfish thereby entering the human food chain.
This EU move to ban single-use plastic products fits within the broader European Strategy on Plastics, following the China ban on plastic waste imports. As more Southeast Asian countries are gearing up to follow China’s example, measures are clearly warranted to avoid what one could call a global plastic waste crisis.
Watch our webinar recording on the Chinese Waste Import Ban – What it Means for Retailers, Brands and Importers.