MEPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of a ban on certain single-use plastic items on Wednesday. The Commission proposed a ban on a dozen categories of products for daily use, which alone account for 70 percent of the waste that ends up in oceans and washed up on beaches.
Among the products banned are cutlery, plates, straws, cocktail mixers, and inflatable balloon stems, which will have to be made with more durable materials in future.
The Commission also proposed limiting the consumption of another category of products for which there is no alternative, such as single-use packages of burgers, sandwiches or fruit.
In the text approved on Wednesday, MEPs propose that waste from tobacco products, in particular cigarette filters containing plastic, should be reduced by 50 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2030.
“The European Parliament has made history by voting to reduce single-use plastics and slash plastic pollution in our rivers and ocean,” said Justine Maillot on behalf of Rethink Plastic, an NGO alliance for a plastic-free future. “It’s now up to national governments to keep a high ambition and resist corporate pressure,” she added.
The European federation of plastic producers called the measures “disproportionate” and asked for “clearer rules” in a statement. “The root causes of marine litter are poor waste management” and “a lack of awareness,” Plastics Europe said.
The Council of the EU, which represents the member states, must also decide on the Commission’s text, which it hopes to do by the end of the year. So-called “trilogue” negotiations can then begin among the Parliament, the Council and the Commission to agree on a final text.
The Commission would like to see the new directive come into force before the end of its mandate in 2019. There are bans already in place at national level, in France for example, where Plastic cups and plates will be banned as of January 1, 2020.