If you live within the EU and you like using disposable plastic utensils, plates, straws, drink stirrers and earbuds, you aren’t in luck. The European Commission is planning to ban the use of such plastic items by 2019 in order to help combat the scourge of plastic waste on the planet.
The Commission is targeting the 10 single-use plastic products that most often end up on Europe’s beaches and in its seas. Together with lost and abandoned fishing gear, these items account for 70% of all marine litter items in Europe. “The new rules are proportionate and tailored to get the best results,” the Commission explains in a press release. “This means different measures will be applied to different products. Where alternatives are readily available and affordable, single-use plastic products will be banned from the market.”
Where an outright ban is unfeasible on certain single-use plastic items, the EU will focus on limiting their use through educational efforts at national and local levels. New consumption reduction targets, recycling targets and labeling requirements will be enacted in the hope of weaning EU citizens off such products.
“Plastic waste is undeniably a big issue and Europeans need to act together to tackle this problem, because plastic waste ends up in our air, our soil, our oceans, and in our food,” Frans Timmermans, first vice-president of the European Commission, said. The proposed ban,” he added, “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.”
The Commission’s overall aim is to reduce the 500,000 tons of plastic waste that is dumped into the sea on the continent every year. The EU wants to cut all that marine litter by half over the next 12 years by encouraging its member states to achieve set targets.