The European Commission has proposed a ban on single-use plastic – specifically targeting 10 products in a bid to curb waste.
With recent reports of plastic waste set to treble within a decade, and scientists discovering that the Great Pacific garbage patch is now three times the size of France, looking for ways to reduce or eliminate our use of the material is starting to take precedent in 2018.
Which is why the European Commission has set out a proposal to ban single-use plastic products in an attempt to reduce marine litter on beaches and the ocean’s seabed across the continent.
The change, if agreed, will specifically target 10 prominent plastic items – such as cotton buds, straws, stirs and balloon sticks – to cut marine litter in half, and avoid environmental damage estimated at £188 billion over the next 12 years.
“Europeans need to act together to tackle this problem,” said EU vice president, Frans Timmermans, on Monday 28 May, specifying that the products wouldn’t be banned outright until sustainable alternatives have been created.
“Today’s proposals 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.”
However, single-use coffee cups made with plastic will only be allowed on the market if their caps and lids remain attached. The UK produces around 30,000 tonnes of coffee cup waste every year, with half a million cups littering the country each day.
Additionally, the proposal also sets out how individual EU member states will be held accountable for meeting set targets for reducing single-use plastics, and will have to collect 90% of all throwaway plastic bottles by 2025.
“The only way to stop plastics pouring into our oceans is to turn off the flow at its source: production,” said Lasse Gustavsson, the European executive director of the environmental group Oceana, welcoming the proposal.
The proposal will be assessed by the EU Parliament and member states. If agreed, the ban on single-use plastic will not come into force until after Brexit.
You can read more about why it’s imperative that we all take part in reducing waste by picking up litter here.