Quantcast

EU Agrees to Slash Single-Use Plastics to Halt Marine Pollution

Oceans
pxhere

Encouraging news on the fight against plastic pollution! Europe is one step closer to banning some of the most common single-use plastics to help protect the environment and reduce marine litter.

Negotiators from the European Parliament and Council reached a provisional agreement on Wednesday to reduce use or eliminate plastic products such as cigarette butts, straws, bottles, cutlery and cotton buds. The European Commission—the EU's executive arm—first introduced the sweeping proposal in May.


If it becomes law, the directive "will reduce the environmental damage bill by €22 billion—the estimated cost of plastic pollution in Europe until 2030," said Belgian MEP Frédérique Ries, who helped lead the 12.5-hour negotiations, in a press release.

The move would place the European Union as a world leader in slashing use of the material. Just yesterday, Britain's Royal Statistical Society highlighted that 90.5 percent of all plastic waste has never been recycled, leaving the vast majority of this trash accumulating in landfills or the natural environment.

"Europe now has a legislative model to defend and promote at [an] international level, given the global nature of the issue of marine pollution involving plastics," Ries added.

The new rules would ban throwaway plastics for which readily available and affordable alternatives exist, for instance:

  • Plastic cutlery (forks, knives, spoons and chopsticks)
  • Plastic plates
  • Plastic straws
  • Food containers made of expanded polystyrene
  • Beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene
  • Cups for beverages made of expanded polystyrene
  • Products made from oxo-degradable plastic (plastics that oxidize into micro fragments, which contributes to microplastic pollution)
  • Cotton bud sticks made of plastic

Other measures are aimed at reducing the use of certain plastics:

  • For plastic bottles, the most commonly littered items on European beaches, member states will have a collection target of 77 percent by 2025 and 90 percent by 2029.
  • Marking on wet wipe packaging that informs consumers of the presence of plastic and how it harms the environment.
  • Cigarettes and other tobacco products that contain filters with plastic—the second most littered item on Europe's beaches—will also need a marking on their packaging about the presence of plastic.
  • A binding target of at least 25 percent of recycled plastic for PET beverage bottles from 2025 onwards and at least 30 percent by 2030.
  • Producers will also have to help cover waste management and cleanup costs.

The provisional agreement reached Wednesday still needs formal approval by the European Parliament and the Council. Once that's secured, the directive will be published in the EU's Official Journal and the EU's 28-member states will have to transpose it after two years, according to a European Commission press release.

Environmentalists welcomed the deal but urged the lawmakers to go further in transitioning to sustainable alternatives.

"The EU deserves praise for being the first region to introduce new laws to reduce single-use plastics and slash plastic pollution in our fields, rivers and oceans," said Meadhbh Bolger, resource justice campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, on behalf of Rethink Plastic in a press release.

"What's less laudable is that the plastics lobby—backed up by some governments—was able to delay and weaken the ambition," Bolger added. "Citizens across Europe want to see an end to our throwaway culture and politicians have taken the first step. The time is ripe for Europe to transition away from single-use plastics to reusables."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

"It would be great to see all the candidates join Elizabeth Warren in taking the No Big Ag Money Pledge," said Citizens Regeneration Lobby's Alexis Baden-Mayer. Peter Blanchard / Flickr / ric (CC BY 2.0)

By Andrea Germanos

Food system justice and environmental advocates on Wednesday urged all Democratic presidential hopefuls to follow in the footsteps of Sen. Elizabeth Warren in signing a pledge rejecting campaign cash from food and agribusiness corporations.

Read More
A new study shows the impact Native Americans had on landscapes was "small" compared to what followed by Europeans. The findings provide important takeaway for conservation in New England today, seen above in a view of areas surrounding Rangeley Lakes in Maine. Cappi Thompson / Moment / Getty Images

There's a theory going around that Native Americans actively managed the land the lived on, using controlled burns to clear forests. It turns out that theory is wrong. New research shows that Native Americans barely altered the landscape at all. It was the Europeans who did that, as ZME Science reported.

Read More
Sponsored
Loggers operate in an area of lodgepole pine trees killed by the mountain pine beetle in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest on Sept. 13, 2019 in Montana. As climate change makes summers hotter and drier in the Northern Rockies, forests are threatened with increasing wildfire activity, deadly pathogens and insect infestations, including the mountain pine beetle outbreak. The insects have killed more than six million acres of forest across Montana since 2000. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President Donald Trump told a crowd at the Davos World Economic Forum Tuesday that the U.S. will join the Forum's 1t.org initiative to restore and conserve one trillion trees around the world, according to The Hill.

Read More
Wild rice flatbread is one of many Native recipes found in Indigikitchen. Indigikitchen

The online cooking show Indigikitchen is providing a platform to help disseminate Indigenous food recipes — while helping eaters recognize their impact on the planet and Native communities.

Read More

On the Solomon Islands, rats and poachers are the two major threats to critically endangered sea turtles. A group of local women have joined forces to help save the animals from extinction.

Read More