The Council of the EU today adopted the ambitious measures proposed by the Commission to tackle marine litter coming from the 10 single-use plastic products most often found on European beaches, as well as abandoned fishing gear and oxo-degradable plastics.
The rules on Single-Use Plastics items and fishing gear envisage different measures to apply to different product and place the EU at the forefront of the global fight against marine litter. Where alternatives are easily available and affordable, single-use plastic products will be banned from the market, such as cutlery, plates and straws. For other products, the focus is on limiting their use through a national reduction in consumption; on design and labelling requirements; and waste management/clean-up obligations for producers.
The new rules will introduce:
- A ban on selected single-use products made of plastic for which alternatives exist on the market: cotton bud sticks, cutlery, plates, straws, stirrers, sticks for balloons, as well as cups, food and beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene and on all products made of oxo-degradable plastic.
- Measures to reduce consumption of food containers and beverage cups made of plastic and specific marking and labelling of certain products.
- Extended Producer Responsibility schemes covering the cost to clean-up litter, applied to products such as tobacco filters and fishing gear.
- A 90% separate collection target for plastic bottles by 2029 (77% by 2025) and the introduction of design requirements to connect caps to bottles, as well as target to incorporate 25% of recycled plastic in PET bottles as from 2025 and 30% in all plastic bottles as from 2030.
Effects in the future
The Directive follows a similar approach to the successful 2015 Plastic Bags Directive, which brought about a rapid shift in consumer behavior. When implemented the new measures will bring about both environmental and economic benefits. They will avoid the emission of 3.4 MMT of CO2 and environmental damages which would cost the equivalent of €22 billion by 2030. Also, costumers will save €6.5 billion.