Single-use plastics including plates, cutlery, straws, balloon sticks and cotton buds will be banned across the European Union under new plans revealed by MEPs.
Single use plastic items – which are made and then simply thrown away – make up over 70 per cent of marine litter and will be banned across EU countries by 2021, under current plans. Certain plastic bags and fast-food containers also face being banned from sale.
The ban will focus on packaging that could be replaced by a viable, more environmentally friendly alternative.
For single-use items where no current alternative exists, EU countries will need to reduce use of them by 25 per cent by 2025. These items include single-use burger boxes, sandwich boxes and containers for fruit, vegetables, desserts and ice creams.
Other plastics, including soft drinks bottles, will have to be collected separately and recycled at a rate of 90 per cent by 2025.
The sweeping new plans also include measures to reduce waste from tobacco products, including plastic-laden cigarette filters, and fishing gear – which MEPs said represents 27 per cent of waste found on Europe’s beaches – within the same timeframe.
Belgian MEP Frédérique Ries, who was responsible for the bill, called the move a “victory” for the future health of the environment.
The UK will adopt the rules if it’s still in the EU at the time – though the Government is already considering pushing forward with its own plans to ban single-use plastics such as straws. Theresa May has in the past called plastic waste “one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world.”