European Parliament Approves Single-Use Plastics Ban
The European Parliament has approved a ban on single-use plastics such as straws, plates, cutlery and cotton-swab sticks in Europe by 2021, joining a global shift as environmentalists emphasize the urgency of putting an end to use of materials that are detrimental to the planet.
Currently, an estimated 12.7 million tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans each year. This has resulted in over 267 species worldwide being affected and 700 species at risk of becoming extinct. Reports also claim 90 percent of seabirds have plastic in their stomach.
The ban was approved on a vote of 571 to 53 on Wednesday, October 24 2018. The ban will cover 10 single-use plastics that most often end up in the ocean will, as well as oxo-degradable plastics, such as bags or fast-food container packaging. They will be prohibited in European Union.
The consumption of several other items, for which no alternative exists, will have to be reduced by member states by at least 25 percent by 2025. 90 percent of beverage bottles will be recycled, under the proposal.
The European Parliament will next enter into negotiations with the European Council of government ministers for the 28 member states, who are expected to make a final decision on the legislation by Dec. 16.
“We have adopted the most ambitious legislation against single-use plastics,” the member of the European Parliament who drafted the bill, Frédérique Ries said .
“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.
The European Commission put forward the legislation in May, after its research found that plastics made up 80 percent of marine litter on European beaches, posing a major threat to coastal biodiversity. The World Economic Forum also estimates that 90 percent of the world’s plastic waste ends up in the ocean, and that currently there are 50 million tons of plastic in the world’s oceans that could take centuries to degrade. This year the forum warned that there would be more plastic than fish in weight in oceans by 2050.
A small pilot study presented this month said that researchers had found a variety of micro-plastics in stool samples of eight people from Austria, Finland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia and the United Kingdom — which Philipp Schwabl, a gastroenterologist at the Medical University of Vienna and lead author of the study, called “astonishing.”
The European Federation of Waste Management and Environmental Services, or FEAD, the body representing waste-management companies in Europe, welcomed the Parliament’s vote but highlighted the need for fully recyclable packaging items.