The European Union is moving forward with its plastic ban initiative. The EU just signed off on a plan that will prohibit single-use plastics throughout participating countries by the year 2021. The law targets specific plastics while forcing companies to pay for any pollution their products may cause.
“Today we have taken an important step to reduce littering and plastic pollution in our oceans and seas,” the European Commission’s Frans Timmermans explained. “Europe is setting new and ambitious standards, paving the way for the rest of the world.”
According to EcoWatch, the new law will eliminate around 70 percent of the plastics that pollute oceans. Banned plastics include single-use cutlery, plates, straws, cotton swabs (that feature plastic sticks), polystyrene cups and oxo-degradable plastics. The plan also requires that companies use at least 25 percent of recycled materials in plastic bottles over the next six years.
When it comes to paying for pollution, the law will require companies to help in the clean-up efforts related to their products. For example, cigarette businesses will have to pay to pick up butts that are carelessly thrown away, while companies that make fishing gear will be required to help fund the removal of plastic nets from the ocean.
Lastly, the new initiative will force companies to create better labels for products that contain plastic. More specifically, the EU wants companies to better inform customers when their products include plastics, especially when it is harder to discern. The revised labels will also encourage people to recycle the items if necessary.
The European Commission originally announced the ban back in the spring of 2018. With full backing from Parliament, the ban is expected to be completed and sent to member states soon. If the law is followed by all of the countries in the EU, experts hope that it will significantly curb ocean litter, which is largely made up of single-use plastics. The law should also save the EU around 22 billion euros by the year 2030.
The EU hopes that its plastic ban will become a model for other countries around the world to follow.
Image via Matthew Gollop