Single-Use Plastics

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Europe sets rules to reduce single-use plastics

The European Commission is proposing new unprecedented EU-wide laws to counter the throwaway culture and target the 10 single-use plastic products most often found on Europe's beaches and seas, as well as lost and abandoned fishing gear, which together make up 70% of all marine litter items.

The news confirms what was already revealed in a leaked document earlier this month, and it comes as part of a wider EU strategy to curb plastic pollution in the ocean and on beaches.

The Commission's proposals made on May 28 "will reduce single use plastics on our supermarket shelves through a range of measures. We will ban some of these items, and substitute them with cleaner alternatives so people can still use their favourite products” says Vice-President Frans Timmermans.

Different measures will be applied to different products - where alternatives are readily available and affordable, single-use plastic products will be banned from the market. For products without straight-forward alternatives, the focus is on limiting their use through a national reduction in consumption, design and labelling requirements, and waste management/clean-up obligations for producers.

The new rules also introduce a complete ban on single-use plastic products, and propose a target of 90% separate collection of plastic bottles by 2025.

“Iit is so easy to grab the plastic fork with a take-away salad or forget to say ‘keep the straw’ when ordering a fresh juice. I signed the De-Straw pledge and was shocked by this statistic: 20 Minutes is the average use time of a plastic straw, but they’ll be around for approximately 600 years,” says IWTO General Secretary Dalena White.

"Less is more can also be applied to our cupboards. Make use of second-hand options, for example, to ensure that petroleum-based textiles are kept out of landfill. 

"Biodegradable is the 'new black' and textiles made from natural fibres, such as wool, deserve to take first place in the fashion buyer's wish-list."

The Commission's proposals will now go to the European Parliament and Council, who have the chance to make this a reality for a greener future.

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