Europe took a big leap forward towards plastic marine pollution, voting for a ban on single-use plastic products that have acceptable substitutes, for example straws, cutlery, and foam takeaway food boxes.
With an overwhelming approval 560 - 35, the ban will be put into action from 2021 on, hoping it also serves as an example to the world. Not all expendable appliances will be prohibited, producing these items involves making them from sustainable materials. New design and labeling conditions are in order, together with stricter waste responsibilities to minimize their use.
Reason for this ban was the recent decision from China to stop importing some of Europe's waste, and to reduce plastic pollution ending up in the oceans. According to the EU, over 80% of marine trash was plastic, and 70% of this plastic is covered by the new law.
New recycling objectives for member states are also in order. Recovery target for plastic bottles have got to be 90% by 2029, and plastic bottles should contain at least 25% recycled material by 2025, and 30% by 2030.
The polluter pays principle is enhanced by this accord, especially the tobacco industry, bringing comprehensive commitment to producers. Manufacturers of fishing gear, and not the fishermen, must commit to the collecting costs for nets lost at sea.
"This will help us move on from single-use plastics and toward less consumption, the multiple use of better designed products, more innovation and a cleaner environment," said Margrete Auken, an EU lawmaker for the Greens/EFA group. "The next step is to move away from our waste-based culture."
Lead MEP Frederique Ries (ALDE, BE) said: “This legislation will reduce the environmental damage bill by €22 billion - the estimated cost of plastic pollution in Europe until 2030. Europe now has a legislative model to defend and promote at international level, given the global nature of the issue of marine pollution involving plastics. This is essential for the planet.”