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European Union has moved to ban certain single-use plastics

The European Commission has proposed new laws which have been designed to eliminate the plastic waste that is most commonly washing up on Europe’s beaches. The European Union’s governing body is targeting the 10 single-use plastic products which, along with fishing gear, account for 70 percent of the marine litter in Europe.

If the legislation is passed by the 28 Member States, some disposable plastics such as straws and cutlery will be completely banned across the European Union, while plastic food containers and cups will be largely reduced.

A press release from the European Commission explains that different measures will be used for different products.

“Where alternatives are readily available and affordable, single-use plastic products will be banned from the market. For products without straight-forward alternatives, the focus is on limiting their use through a national reduction in consumption.”

The initiative will make plastic producers financially responsible for some of the waste management and clean-up associated with their products. For example, producers of plastic fishing gear will be required to cover the costs of waste collection as well as the costs of awareness-raising measures.

The proposed law will also make it mandatory for countries across the European Union to collect 90 percent of single-use plastic drink bottles by 2025.

The European Commission explained that the incentive to develop more sustainable solutions will give companies in Europe a competitive edge in taking the technological lead over global competitors.

First Vice-President Frans Timmermans is responsible for sustainable development in the EU. He said that plastic waste is “undeniably a big issue and Europeans need to act together to tackle this problem.”

“Across the world, plastics make up 85% of marine litter,” the Commission stated. “And plastics are even reaching people’s lungs and dinner tables, with microplastics in the air, water and food having an unknown impact on their health.”

“Tackling the plastics problem is a must and it can bring new opportunities for innovation, competitiveness and job creation.”

For World Environment Day on June 5th, the European Commission will launch an EU-wide awareness campaign which will highlight how individual consumers can help to combat plastic pollution and marine litter.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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