In a bid to protect the environment and marine life, the European Parliament has voted to ban most single-use plastics with a 571-53 majority. Plastic straws, plates, cutlery, and cotton buds are among the products that will be eradicated from 2021 onwards if the proposals are approved by member states.
Proposals for the ban, which would also target abandoned fishing gear and hold major companies accountable for their waste, were initially put forward by the European Commission back in May.
Belgian liberal Frederique Ries was responsible for the bill’s proposal, which is expected to evoke resistance from member states. “We have adopted the most ambitious legislation against single-use plastics,” he said in a statement, as reported in the Independent. “It is up to us now to stay the course in the upcoming negotiations with the council, due to start as early as November.”
Under the new rules, European states will be expected to recycle 90 percent of their plastic bottles by 2025, and fishing gear producers will have to ensure at least 50 percent of gear is collected each year. Abandoned fishing nets and other “ghost” gear make up nearly half of overall plastic pollution, causing extensive damage to marine habitats. Tobacco companies will also be tasked with collecting and processing cigarette butts, reducing the amount entering the environment by 80 percent by 2030.
“Today’s vote paves the way to a forthcoming and ambitious directive,” added Ries. “It is essential in order to protect the marine environment and reduce the costs of environmental damage attributed to plastic pollution in Europe, estimated at €22bn by 2030.”
Around the world, major companies are taking note of the plastic crisis and implementing policies to protect the future of our oceans. In September, food and drink giants Danone and Nestlé, together with eight other bottled drinks companies, vowed to ditch single-use plastics and move to a more sustainable, zero-waste form of packaging by 2030. Ikea, KFC, Starbucks, Adidas, and many more major retailers and brands have also pledged to either eliminate or significantly reduce their use of single-use plastic.
“Plastic can be fantastic,” said Jykri Katainen, the Vice President of the European Commission, in May. “But we need to use it more responsibly. Single-use plastics are not a smart economic or environmental choice.”
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