EU parliament approves ban on single-use plastics

STRASBOURG: The European Parliament voted overwhelmingly Wednesday (Oct
24) for an EU-wide ban on single-use plastics such as straws, cutlery,
cotton buds and balloon sticks.

The European Commission, the 28-nation EU's executive arm, proposed
banning such items that it said account for 70 per cent of the waste in
the oceans and beaches.

"Today we are one step closer to eliminating the most problematic
single-use plastic products in Europe," the EU's environment
commissioner Karmenu Vella said.

The European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, voted for the ban on
single-use plastic by 571 votes for, 53 against and 34 abstentions.

The legislation which supporters want to take effect by 2021 must still
be approved in negotiations involving the member states, parliament and
the commission.

The WWF said the vote put "the EU on track as a global leader in
reducing plastic pollution and pioneering stronger circular economies."

However, it said the parliament missed an opportunity to close a legal
loophole on the definition of single-use plastics, adding it allows
products to be labelled re-usable when they may not be.

The manufacturers associations PlasticsEurope said the measures are
"disproportionate," adding bans discourage investment needed to develop
ways to recycle plastics.

Like WWF, it said single-use plastics definitions remain "ambiguous".

The parliament said its ban across the EU targets single-use cutlery,
cotton buds, straws and stirrers, which were on the commission's
original list of 10 items.

MEPs added polystyrenes used to wrap fast-food and oxo-plastics, such as
bags that have been touted as biodegradable but which break up into
tiny particles.

The legislation calls for plastic items where no alternatives are available to be reduced by at least 25 per cent by 2025.


Under the ban, drinks bottles and other plastics will have to be
collected separately and recycled at a rate of 90 per cent by 2025.

The legislation calls for reducing waste from tobacco products,
especially cigarette filters containing plastic, by 50 per cent by 2025
and 80 per cent by 2030.

Cigarette butts can take up to 12 years to disintegrate when thrown on a road, the parliament said.

It calls for member states to ensure that tobacco firms cover the costs of waste collection for those products.

The bill calls on member countries to ensure that at least 50 per cent
of lost or abandoned fishing gear containing plastic is collected

It calls for recycling at least 15 per cent of fishing gear - which
accounts for 27 per cent of the litter on Europe's beaches - by 2025.

Producers of fishing gear containing plastic will also need to assume
the cost of collecting litter and help meet the recycling target.

Frederique Ries, member of the liberal ALDE party, said the bill he
steered through parliament is "the most ambitious legislation against
single-use plastics".

He added "it is up to us now to stay the course in the upcoming
negotiations with" the EU member states, which could start next month.

He said the legislation is needed to protect the environment and cut
damage from plastics that will rise to an estimated 22 billion euros by

The European Commission has said businesses will benefit from one set of rules for an EU market of around 500 million people.

It said it will encourage EU companies to develop economies of scale and
become more competitive in the "booming" global market for sustainable

The EU push to crack down on plastic use follows China's decision to ban imports of foreign waste products for recycling.

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