Negotiators from EU Member States and the European Parliament have agreed to ban the majority of single-use plastic products, it was announced on Wednesday.
The legislation, which was adopted in record time after its initial proposal by the European Commission at the end of May, will ban a dozen categories of products which together account for 70 percent of waste found in the oceans and on the beaches.
Among the products to be banned are single-use plastic items including plates, cutlery and polystyrene food containers and beverage cups. The agreement, reached after a night of final negotiations, still has to be approved by both the Parliament and Council of the European Union.
The EU hopes to complete the legislative process by spring 2019, with the law entering into force in 2021.
The agreement also sets a goal of collecting 90 percent of plastic bottles by by 2029.
According to MEP Frédérique Ries the agreement will “reduce the environmental damage bill by 22 billion euros, the estimated cost of pollution to plastics in Europe by 2030”.
The EU wants to hold the manufacturers of these products to account with a “reinforced application of the polluter pays principle,” says the Parliament.
In addition to protecting the oceans, the Commission argues that the Directive has other “environmental and economic benefits”. For example, it will “avoid the emission of 3.4 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent” and “save 6.5 billion euros” to consumers.
The Rethink Plastic alliance, which brings together NGOs for a plastic-free future, called the text “a significant step forward in tackling plastic pollution,” but cautioned that it “does not fully respond to the urgency of the plastics crisis.”
“The EU deserves praise for being the first region to introduce new laws to reduce pollution from single-use plastics and plastic waste in our fields, rivers and oceans. What is less commendable is that the plastic lobby – supported by some governments – has been successful in delaying and weakening its ambition, ” said Meadhbh Bolger of Friends of the Earth Europe on behalf of Rethink Plastic.