Last week, ten single-use plastic (SUP) products including straws, cutlery and cotton buds were banned in the EU, with the measure coming into effect on Saturday 3rd July. Biodegradable alternatives for these items are anticipated to come into circulation instead.
Polystyrene food containers and plastic bags have previously been barred from use as well, with this move being introduced in 2019 as part of the bloc’s Single-Use Plastics Directive. Other restrictions under the EU’s crackdown on plastic include plastic producers having to fund clean-up initiatives of their products, as well as promote and improve education about the harmful effects of these items.
While the measures will be implemented differently in each member country, each will be working towards the common goal of making SUPs a thing of the past. Currently, these plastics represent 70% of all total marine waste in the EU, and it is hoped that the ban will significantly reduce the problem, as well as create a circular economy model in Europe – with all plastic either being biodegradable or reusable by 2030.
In a statement, the objective of the EU Directive was said to be “to prevent and reduce the impact of certain plastic products on the environment, in particular the aquatic environment, and on human health, as well as to promote the transition to a circular economy with innovative and sustainable business models, products and materials”
On the EU’s plastics policies, Lead MEP Frédérique Ries said: “This legislation will reduce the environmental damage bill by €22 billion – the estimated cost of plastic pollution in Europe until 2030.”
“Europe now has a legislative model to defend and promote at international level, given the global nature of the issue of marine pollution involving plastics,” he adds. “This is essential for the planet.”
Further measures to reduce and eliminate SUPs are anticipated in the next few years, as alternative plastic solutions gain commercial momentum. A 90% collection target has also been set for plastic bottles by 2029, as well as a minimum of 25% recycled content in plastic bottles by 2025, and 30% by 2030.