The EU has recently announced that it will ban single-use plastics as part of the fight to minimize plastic waste. Recent decades have shown a spike in single-use plastics that ultimately end up in waterways and oceans, killing marine life and threatening entire ecosystems.
The ban will focus on the “top 10 plastic products that most often end up in the ocean,” like plastic straws, cotton swabs, disposable plastic plates, and cutlery. These items will be banned by 2021; further goals include recycling 90% of plastic bottles recycled by 2025.
The legislation passed with 571 in favor and only 53 opposed; however, EU states still are required to support the directive before it can become law and some have expressed opposition to the proposal due to cited logistical difficulty. Nonetheless, a commission source reported to the Guardian, “We hope to have a vote in the European council in November. If all goes well, we could have it in law by the end of the year.”
The EU is expecting the UK to follow suit with similar legislation. As it is, the move puts the EU in a leadership role for tackling the global plastic waste crisis.
“Europe has to come to terms with the fact that we cannot just put it on someone else’s shoulders,” EU Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans reported to Reuters. “If we don’t move now, if we don’t move swiftly…you will have more plastic in the oceans than fish.”
Karmenu Vella, the environment commissioner, also commented: “Today we are one step closer to eliminating the most problematic single-use plastic products in Europe. It sends a clear signal that Europe is ready to take decisive, coordinated action to curb plastic waste and to lead international efforts to make our oceans plastic-free.”