First steps taken to cut single-use plastics in Europe

marinelitterThe European Commission has taken a leap forward in tackling plastic pollution, with new laws to reduce throwaway single-use plastics.
The proposal, which is designed to prevent and reduce the impact of certain plastic products on the environment, and in particular the marine environment, sets a number of different policy measures to tackle these problematic single-use products, from bans and reduction efforts, to labelling and extended producer responsibility schemes.

Martin Galea De Giovanni, director at Friends of the Earth Malta said: “Following the public outcry these new laws are addressing the call of citizens. These positives steps will cut pollution and at the same time create job opportunities.”

The range of legislative measures includes:

  • A ban on single-use plastic straws, cutlery and plates, cotton buds and balloon sticks
  • A requirement to achieve ‘significant’ reductions in the consumption of plastic food containers and cups within 6 years, through measures such as national consumption reduction targets, minimum reusable packaging targets, or ensuring such items are not provided free of charge
  • A 2025 target of 90% separate collection of plastic bottles, to be achieved through Extended Producer Responsibility schemes or the implementation of deposit return schemes
    Detailed labelling on sanitary towels, wet wipes and balloons informing citizens of the negative environmental impact of inappropriate disposal
  • The introduction of Extended Producer Responsibility schemes for waste fishing gear, cigarette butts, beverage containers including lids and caps, food containers, lightweight plastic bags and wet wipes amongst others.

“Unfortunately though, the legislation fails to set specific EU-wide reduction targets for food containers and beverage cups, at least not before 2027. We believe that it is vital to shorten this time period to three years after transposition rather than six.”

The European Parliament and the Council of EU ministers will discuss and amend the legislative proposal in the coming months.