The final step towards a ban in the European Union on a number of single-use plastic products – including plates, cutlery, straws and earbuds – was taken on May 21 with approval of the directive by the Council of the EU.
The single-use plastics directive builds on the EU’s existing waste legislation but goes further by setting stricter rules for those types of products and packaging which are among the top 10 most frequently found items polluting European beaches.
The new rules ban the use of certain throwaway plastic products for which alternatives exist. In addition, specific measures are introduced to reduce the use of the most frequently littered plastic products.
Single-use plastic products are made wholly or partly of plastic and are typically intended to be used just once or for a short period of time before they are thrown away. One of the main purposes of the directive is to reduce the amount of plastic waste.
Under the new rules, single-use plastic plates, cutlery, straws, balloon sticks and cotton buds will be banned by 2021.
EU countries have agreed to achieve a 90 per cent collection target for plastic bottles by 2029, and plastic bottles will have to contain at least 25 per cent of recycled content by 2025 and 30 per cent by 2030.
The European Commission presented its proposal for a directive in May 2018. The Council reached its position on October 31 2018. Negotiations with the European Parliament started on November 6 2018 and ended in a provisional agreement on December 19 2018, which was confirmed by EU ambassadors of the member states on January 18 2019.