Quantcast

EU Parliament Bans Plastics Responsible for 70% of Ocean Trash

Oceans
Plastic bottles on a beach in Norway (not a member country of the EU). Bo Eide / Flickr

The European Parliament approved a ban on single-use plastics Wednesday, meaning that common plastic items that make up 70 percent of marine litter will be banned in the EU by 2021, the parliament announced in a press release.

The law also sets targets for the collection of plastic bottles, includes new labeling laws and strengthens provisions to ensure companies pay to clean up the pollution they cause.

"Today we have taken an important step to reduce littering and plastic pollution in our oceans and seas," European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said, as The Guardian reported. "We got this, we can do this. Europe is setting new and ambitious standards, paving the way for the rest of the world."


The details of the new rule are as follows:

1. Banned Items: The following items will be banned in the EU by 2021:

  • Single-use plastic cutlery
  • Single-use plastic plates
  • Plastic straws
  • Cotton swabs with plastic sticks
  • Plastic balloon sticks
  • Oxo-degradable plastics and food containers and expanded polystyrene cups

2. Plastic Bottles: Plastic bottles will need to be made with 25 percent recycled material by 2025 and 30 percent by 2030. EU states will need to collect 90 percent of plastic bottles by 2029.

3. The Polluter Pays: The law will strengthen provisions requiring companies to pay for cleaning up pollution. This will mean requiring cigarette companies to pay for removing cigarette butts and fishing gear manufacturers to pay for removing nets from the sea, CNN explained.

4. Clearer Labeling: Items like cigarette filters, plastic cups, wet wipes and sanitary napkins will be labeled if they contain plastic and the labels will include instructions for disposing of them in an environmentally responsible manner.

The European Commission first introduced the ban in May of 2018 and it was approved by member states in October of that year, according to CNN. The measure passed European Parliament with 560 votes. Thirty-five opposed it and 28 abstained. Only a few formalities now stand between the rule and its publication in the EU rulebook, after which member states will need to act, The Guardian explained.

The European Commission estimates that 80 percent of marine litter is made up of plastic. Belgian member of the European Parliament Frédérique Ries said the measure should save the EU €22 billion (approximately $24 billion), the expected cost of plastic pollution in the block up to 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," Ries said in the European Parliament press release.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Watchfield Solar Park in England. RTPeat / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Simon Evans

During the three months of July, August and September, renewables generated an estimated total of 29.5 terawatt hours (TWh), compared with just 29.1TWh from fossil fuels, the analysis shows.

Read More Show Less
A demonstrator waves an Ecuadorian flag during protests against the end of subsidies to gasoline and diesel on Oct. 9 in Quito, Ecuador. Jorge Ivan Castaneira Jaramillo / Getty Images

The night before Indigenous Peoples' Day, an Indigenous-led movement in Ecuador won a major victory.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Protesters block the road outside Mansion House in London during an XR climate change protest. Gareth Fuller / PA Images via Getty Images

One week into Extinction Rebellion's planned two weeks of International Rebellion to demand action on the climate crisis, the London police have banned the group from the city.

Read More Show Less
Protestors marched outside the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on Monday, August 26, during the MTV Video and Music Awards to bring attention to the water crisis currently gripping the city. Karla Ann Cote / NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Will Sarni

It is far too easy to view scarcity and poor quality of water as issues solely affecting emerging economies. While the images of women and children fetching water in Africa and a lack of access to water in India are deeply disturbing, this is not the complete picture.

Read More Show Less
Pexels
  • Mice exposed to nicotine-containing e-cigarette vapor developed lung cancer within a year.
  • More research is needed to know what this means for people who vape.
  • Other research has shown that vaping can cause damage to lung tissue.

A new study found that long-term exposure to nicotine-containing e-cigarette vapor increases the risk of cancer in mice.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Demonstrators with The Animal Welfare Institute hold a rally to save the vaquita, the world's smallest and most endangered porpoise, outside the Mexican Embassy in DC on July 5, 2018. SAUL LOEB / AFP / Getty Images

By John R. Platt

Six months: That's how much time Mexico now has to report on its progress to save the critically endangered vaquita porpoise (Phocoena sinus) from extinction.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

It may seem innocuous to flush a Q-tip down the toilet, but those bits of plastic have been washing up on beaches and pose a threat to the birds, turtles and marine life that call those beaches home. The scourge of plastic "nurdles," as they are called, has pushed Scotland to implement a complete ban on the sale and manufacture of plastic-stemmed cotton swabs, as the BBC reported.

Read More Show Less
Air conditioners, like these in a residential and restaurant area of Singapore city, could put a massive strain on electricity grids during more intense heatwaves. Taro Hama @ e-kamakura / Moment / Getty Images

By Tim Radford

Scientists in the U.S. have added a new dimension to the growing hazard of extreme heat. As global average temperatures rise, so do the frequency, duration and intensity of heatwaves.

Read More Show Less