Plastic pollution is already a huge problem demanding huge solutions, and the European Parliament has just announced plans to make some of the biggest steps ever taken to stem the tide. Members of the European Parliament have this week voted in favor of a plan that would see items like single-use cutlery and straws banned from 2021 onwards.
The proposed ban is part of the EU's wider Plastics Strategy announced back in January and further detailed in May, which aims to work toward a total elimination of single-use plastics. The European Commission says more than 80 percent of marine litter is plastics, and the fear is if we don't change our ways, by 2050 there will be more of it in the ocean than fish.
The ban would apply to the entire EU market and cover disposable cutlery, cotton buds, straws and stirrers, along with oxo-plastics, such as bags or packaging, and particular polystyrenes, such as those used in fast-food containers.
Ninety percent of plastic bottles would need to be recycled by 2025, while cigarette filters containing plastic will need to be reduced by 50 percent by the same year, further reducing by 80 percent by 2030. Member states, meanwhile, would need to collect at least 50 percent of lost and abandoned plastic fishing gear each year, and work toward recycling at least 15 percent of it by 2025.
More of an onus would also be placed on companies selling plastic items, with tobacco companies to be made to cover the cost of waste collection of their products, and the same goes for purveyors of fishing gear containing plastic.
Negotiations to make the plan binding legislation will now begin between the Parliament, the EU Commission and the member states.
"We have adopted the most ambitious legislation against single-use plastics," says EU rapporteur Frédérique Ries. "It is up to us now to stay the course in the upcoming negotiations with the Council, due to start as early as November. Today's vote paves the way to a forthcoming and ambitious directive. It is essential in order to protect the marine environment and reduce the costs of environmental damage attributed to plastic pollution in Europe, estimated at 22 billion euros by 2030."
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