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EU proposes bloc-wide ban on single-use plastics

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans gives a joint press on legislative measures to fight against single-use plastic waste at the EU headquarters in Brussels on May 28, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

The European Union has proposed a bloc-wide ban on single-use plastics such as straws, cutlery and cotton buds while urging the collection of most plastic drinks bottles by 2025.

The set of proposals are part of a growing EU drive to rid the environment of plastic waste, which has begun showing up in the food chain.

"Plastic waste is undeniably a big issue and Europeans need to act together to tackle this problem," EU First Vice President Frans Timmermans said on Monday.

"Today's proposals will reduce single-use plastics on our supermarket shelves through a range of measures," Timmermans added.

The proposals call for banning plastic cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers and balloon sticks, but it does not set a deadline.

These items must all be made from sustainable materials instead, according to the plan that must be approved by the 28 EU member countries and the European Parliament.

Member states must reduce the use of plastic food containers and drinks cups by promoting alternatives for sale or ensuring they are not offered free.


This picture taken on May 24, 2018, in Sieversdorf, eastern Germany, shows plastic straws. (Photo by AFP)

Under the plan, producers must contribute to the costs of waste management and will be offered incentives to develop less polluting alternatives.

For example, it calls for producers of plastic fishing gear to cover the cost of waste collection from port reception facilities.

Under the plan, member countries must collect 90 percent of single-use plastic drinks bottles by 2025, through deposit refund schemes, for example.

The plan calls for producers to clearly label products and inform consumers how the waste should be disposed of.

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, said businesses would benefit from one set of rules for an EU market of around 500 million people.

It said it would encourage EU companies to develop economies of scale and become more competitive in the "booming" global market for sustainable products.

The proposals, plus one in January for all plastic packaging in Europe to be recyclable by 2030, follows China's decision to ban imports of foreign waste products for recycling.

The EU currently exports half of its collected and sorted plastics, 85 percent of which goes to China.

(Source: AFP)


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