EU agrees new limits on Single Use Plastics

Brussels – The EU institutions have adopted a proposal to drastically reduce single use plastics, with the aim of tackling marine litter at its source.

The most striking element of the new Single Use Plastic Directive is the total ban on some products for which non-plastic alternatives are easily available and affordable. The ban will apply to plastic cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers and balloon sticks. Single use drinks containers made with plastic will only be allowed on the market if their caps remain attached.

These products have been targeted because they are the top sources of marine litter – together with fishing gear they account for 70%. This way the EU will expand the market for innovative alternatives, including bio-based products. In the last years of Horizon 2020, €100 million will be devoted to priority actions in this area, including smarter and more recyclable plastic materials and more efficient recycling processes.

In addition to the ban, a number of other measures are included in the directive:

  • Consumption reduction targets – Member States will have to reduce the use of plastic food containers and drinks cups;
  • Extended Producer Responsibility – Producers will help cover the costs of waste management and clean-up, and will also be given incentives to develop less polluting alternatives;
  • Collection targets – Member States will be obliged to collect 90% of single-use plastic drinks bottles by 2025, for example through deposit refund schemes;
  • Labelling Requirements – a clear and standardised labelling will be required for certain products, indicating how waste should be disposed, the negative environmental impact of the product, and the presence of plastics in the products;

The Single Use Plastics Directive is part of the wider approach announced in the Plastics Strategy and falls within the Circular Economy Action Plan. It builds on the newly revised EU waste legislation, which include targets for the plastics recycling.

Access the full Directive text here.

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