Plastic that is clogging up the world’s oceans and beaches might be banned across Europe under new proposals.
The European Commission wants to ban the 10 plastic products most often found on the continent’s beaches and seas, as well as lost and abandoned fishing gear.
Together, it says discarded items, such as cotton buds, food containers, plastic straws and fishing nets, constitute 70% of all marine litter.
As plastic breaks down it is eaten by marine species including sea turtles, seals, whales, birds, fish and shellfish. It is therefore also in the human food chain, the Commission has said.
Alongside a ban, it also wants individual EU countries to collect 90% of single-use plastic drinks bottles by 2025.
It says items such as wet wipes, balloons and sanitary towels won’t be included in the list of banned items, but should be labelled to let consumers know they contain plastic and advice them of how to dispose of them.
If the proposals do go ahead, all countries in the EU would need to agree and there is no date set for an all out ban.
EU Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said: “Plastic waste is undeniably a big issue and Europeans need to act together to tackle this problem, because plastic waste ends up in our air, our soil, our oceans, and in our food.”
The UK already has its own separate proposals to ban single use plastics, under plans that are expected to be thrashed out later this year.
Over the last few months lots of major brands in the UK have started to phase out plastic straws - which reportedly can take 500 years to decompose. It is estimated that in the UK alone, more than 8 billion of them are thrown away.
Starbucks, McDonald’s, Wagamama and Wetherspoons are among those to have committed phasing them out.