Europe bans single-use plastics to reduce marine litter

plastic bag
Single use plastics often end up in the sea, causing a threat to nature. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

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The European Council has agreed to tackle marine litter coming from 10 single-use plastic products, abandoned fishing gear and oxo-degradable plastics. The leaders of the European Member States adopted the proposal, prepared by the European Commission and approved by the European Parliament, on the 21st of May. The new Directive have to be translated in national law in 2021.

With these new rules the EU expects to avoid environmental damages which would cost the equivalent of 22 billion euro by 2030. Single-use plastics are banned if alternatives are easily available and affordable. Think of cotton bud sticks, cutlery, plates, straws, stirrers, sticks for balloons, as well as cups, food and beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene and on all products made of oxo-degradable plastic.


“Plastic straws or forks are little objects but can make great, long-lasting damages. The single-use plastics legislation will address 70 percent of marine litters items. The EU has delivered fast and effectively on a proposal the European Commission presented just one year ago. All in all, it’s European legislation at its best – responding to popular demand, benefiting the planet as well its inhabitants, and genuinely leading the world”, concluded the commissioner for environment, maritime affairs and fisheries Karmenu Vella.

Increasing competitiveness

Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness, said: “In a modern economy we have to reduce the amount of plastic litter and make sure we recycle most of the plastics used. More innovative and sustainable ways of production will bring new opportunities for European businesses, increasing their competitiveness, growth and job creation. Once implemented, the new rules will not only tackle plastic pollution, but also make the European Union world leader in a more sustainable plastic policy, thus driving forward our circular economy.”

Collection plastic bottles

The new rules also include a 90% separate collection target for plastic bottles by 2029 (77% by 2025) and the introduction of design requirements to connect caps to bottles, as well as target to incorporate 25% of recycled plastic in PET bottles as from 2025 and 30% in all plastic bottles as from 2030.

Circular economy

The Single-Use Plastics Directive is an essential element of the Juncker Commission’s Circular Economy Action Plan and is part of the EU Plastics Strategy – the most comprehensive strategy in the world which adopts a material-specific lifecycle approach to tackle wasteful and damaging plastic litter and to support the vision of a smart, innovative and sustainable plastics industry.

More information: Single Use Plastics

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