The European Commission proposed a total ban on some single-use plastic products and measures to drastically cut the consumption of others, in the latest push by the EU to reduce carbon emissions and marine litter threatening its seas.
The ban will apply to plastic cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers and sticks for balloons, according to the proposal unveiled on Monday and is subject to approval by EU governments and the European Parliament. Member states will also be forced to reduce the use of plastic food containers and drink cups by prohibiting their free-of-charge distribution.
“Plastic can be fantastic but we need to use it more responsibly,” Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen said in a statement. “Today’s proposals will help business and consumers to move towards sustainable alternatives.”
The measures come as the EU seeks to seize leadership in creating sustainable goods, a market that is worth 2.5 trillion euros ($2.9 trillion), according to Unilever. With some plastic possibly taking 1,000 years to decompose, the EU proposes for companies to set up re-use systems such as deposit refund schemes to ensure a stable supply of high quality material.
Under the commission’s proposal, member states will have to collect 90 percent of single-use plastic drink bottles by 2025. Producers will also be required to chip in the cost of waste management and label how waste will be disposed, “the negative environmental impact of the product, and the presence of plastics in the products.”
The proposed directive aims to save consumers a projected 6.5 billion euros a year as of 2025, and the emission of 3.4 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, according to the commission.