MEPs vote to ban single-use plastic
The measures still face several procedural hurdles but are expected to go through by 2021, although European parliamentary elections in May might disrupt many aspects of the bloc’s policies.
In May, the European Commission proposed rules to target the top 10 single-use plastics that are found on the bloc’s beaches and seas, as well as abandoned fishing nets.
One MEP said at current rates “by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans”.
It called for a reduction in the use of plastic food containers for takeaways and beverages and that producers should cover the costs of waste management and clean-up.
The parliamentary vote was backed by 571 MEPs with only 53 in opposition.
Several countries are already considering unilateral proposals to target disposable plastics.
Firms might also be required to raise awareness around pollution caused by tobacco products with filters, such as cigarettes, wet wipes, balloons, plastic bags and crisp wrappers.
Member states might be required to use a deposit refund scheme or other measures to collect 90 per cent of single-use plastic bottles by 2025.
The MEP responsible for the bill, Frédérique Ries, said it was “a victory for our oceans, for the environment and for future generations”.
Sanitary towels, wet wipes and balloons will be required to explain on their packaging how they should be disposed of.
EU members should be required to raise awareness about the environmental cost of single-use plastics.
The manufactures of plastic fishing equipment will be made to cover the costs of trash collection.
The moves follow a surge in public support attributed to documentaries, such as David Attenborough’s Blue Planet series for the BBC.
The commission said only under a third of plastic waste is collected and recycled with much of the rest ending up at sea.
The EU’s research estimated that 150,000 tonnes of plastic are dumped into European waters every year.
A study has shown that micro-plastics have entered the human food chain.
With MEPs’ approval, the commission can now negotiate with the European Council to implement a ban by adapting to the proposed changes.
The commission asking for the new plastic rules to be approved by MEPs and council before parliamentary elections in May 2019.
It is past time to act. Picture credit: Flickr