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European Commission proposes ban on single-use plastic

The European Commission has called on EU Parliament members to set rules for the reduction or ban of the 10 most common single-use plastic items found on European beaches.

The proposal includes different policy measures for different items, from bans and reductions to labelling and extended producer responsibility schemes. The aim is to reduce littering and environmental damage as well as to aid companies to become more competitive in the global marketplace when it comes to sustainable products.

Which products are affected?

Cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws & stirrers, food containers, balloons, beverage containers, bags, cigarette butts, crisps packets, sweet wrappers, wet wipes and sanitary items.

There will be an outright ban on products which have suitable and affordable alternatives, for example, cotton buds, plates and straws must be made from sustainable materials.

In terms of products without suitable alternatives, there will be plans for reduction. For example, member states will achieve set targets for the reduction of items such as food containers and drinks cups by providing alternatives to consumers or ensuring plastic products are never provided free of charge.

Criticism of the proposal

Environmental groups have criticised the plans due to its failure to set specific reduction targets across the EU. Rethink Plastic suggested this could lead to countries claiming they are following the legislation regardless of the size of their national reduction.

Ariadna Rodrigo, Zero Waste Europe’s product policy campaigner said, “Plastic pollution goes far beyond a list of 10 items. Although this legislation is a good first step, the lack of specific reduction targets for member states is alarming.”

Plans will now go to the European Parliament for discussion over the coming months.

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