The European Commission presented news rules in Brussels on Monday intended to reduce plastic marine litter. According to the Commission, the rules target 10 single-use plastic products, which together account for 70 per cent of the plastic waste found along European beaches and in its seas. A variety of measures are proposed, including a ban on plastic cotton swabs, disposable cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers and balloon sticks. There are already affordable non-plastic alternatives to these products, meaning that they could be removed from the market, the Commission explained.
"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," said First Vice-President Frans Timmermans at the presentation of the Commission's plans. He described the EU proposal as the world's most ambitious plan to cut marine litter to date. " 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," he said.
There would be no immediate bans on products for which "straight-forward alternatives" were not yet available. Instead, the focus would be on limiting use through national measures. Member states would be obligated to reduce the consumption of food containers and drinks cups. Member states would be able to set national reduction targets, make alternative products available at the point of sale or end the free distribution of the plastic products, the Commission explained.