Close Up Of Person Collecting Plastic Waste From Polluted Beach

Plastic pollution crisis: European Parliament calls for ban on more single-use items

The European Parliament voted to ban some of the most polluting single-use items today, going beyond the original proposal by the European Commission. National governments must follow suit, campaigners say.

Straws, plates and other single-use plastic items face a ban as Europe is edging closer to a historic deal to counter the ongoing plastic pollution crisis.

The European Parliament voted in favour of a ban on some of the most polluting single-use items today. The proposals were initially put forward by the European Commission back in May, and include a ban on plastic straws, cutlery, plates, beverage stirrers, balloon sticks and cotton buds. EU officials also requested labelling and producer responsibility schemes for several other products.

But the Parliament went a step further today by extending the list of bans to foam food containers, oxo-degradable plastics and very lightweight plastic bags. MEPs also called for the introduction of standards and minimum collection and recycling targets for fishing gear, which is one of the largest contributors to marine litter.

Other relevant proposals include obligations to reduce the consumption of food containers and cups and to separately collect 90 percent of beverage containers, which would also need to be produced from 35 percent of recycled content by 2025.

571 MEPs voted in favour of the proposals, while only 53 rejected them.

“The European Parliament has made history by voting to reduce single-use plastics and slash plastic pollution in our rivers and oceans” said Justine Maillot of Surfrider Foundation Europe on behalf of the Rethink Plastic alliance. She continued:

“Citizens across Europe want to see an end to plastic pollution. It’s now up to national governments to keep the ambition high, and resist corporate pressure to continue a throwaway culture.”

Representatives of EU governments are expected to meet later this month to discuss the proposals. Once countries agree on a common position, the European Parliament and Commission will kick off three-way negotiations which would eventually shape the final laws. These negotiations could start in early November, according to the Rethink Plastic alliance.

A leaked letter recently exposed how major plastic polluters such as Coca-Cola, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Danone are lobbying national environment ministers to water down the directive.

Jean-Pierre Schweitzer, a product policy and circular economy officer with the European Environmental Bureau, also a member of Rethink Plastic, said:

We’re aware that companies are lobbying hard to water down the proposals. We now call on national governments to listen to citizens and the scientific community who are urging politicians to act before it’s too late.”