Environmental protectionNew EU-rules to limit marine pollution caused by single-use plastics

Today, the European Commission proposed new EU-wide rules with the goal of reducing marine litter. Particularly, these rules target the ten single-use plastic products most often found on Europe's beaches and seas, which – together with abandoned fishing gear – constitute 70 percent of all marine litter items.

The Commission urges the other EU institutions involved to treat this as a priority file and to deliver tangible results before elections in May 2019.

The new rules encompass the following:

  • Plastic ban in certain products: Single-use plastic for which there already exist available and affordable alternatives will be banned from the market. This applies to plastic cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers and sticks for balloons, all of which will have to be produced exclusively from more sustainable materials instead. Single-use drinking containers made with plastic will only be allowed if their caps and lids remain attached.

  • Consumption reduction targets: Member States will have to reduce the use of plastic food containers and drinking cups. Possible policy instruments could include national reduction targets, making alternative products available at the point of sale or ensuring that single-use plastic products cannot be provided for free.

  • Collection targets: A recycling rate of 90 percent for single-use plastic drinking bottles has to be achieved by 2025, for instance through deposit refund schemes.

  • Labeling requirements: Certain products, such as sanitary towels, wet wipes and balloons, will need a clear and standardized labeling indicating their use of plastics. Also, instructions about a proper waste disposal and information on the negative environmental impacts of the products have to be provided.

  • Awareness-raising measures: Member States will have to raise consumers' awareness about the negative impacts of the littering of single-use plastics and also about the available re-use systems and waste management options for all these products.

Source: European Commission

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