Lawmakers in Germany have now approved legislation that bans single-use plastic products. This includes cotton buds, cutlery, and straws, which have been widely criticised over their impact on polluting oceans around the world.
In recent years, the EU, which is the second-largest producer of plastic globally, producing around 27 million tonnes of plastic a year, has vowed to toughen up on disposable plastic.
Reports from WWF show that 87% of plastic ends up in the seas and oceans. It also pointed out that the Mediterranean has one of the highest levels of pollution in the world, containing approximately 7% of the world’s microplastics, despite only 1% of the water.
Reports show that a staggering 150,000 to 500,000 tonnes of plastic end up in European water each year. This is dangerous, especially to wildlife, as it can end up being eaten by fish.
It’s predicted that, if swift action isn’t taken, this problem will get worse over time. Forecasts show that, if nothing changes, the seas could end up containing a metric tonne of plastic for every three fish.
The new law, which was approved by Germany’s lower house of parliament yesterday, will be effective from July 2021. The move will bring the country in line with commitments made by European countries last year to place new restrictions on plastic items.
The EU rules prohibit a number of products that are a threat to wildlife and fisheries in Europe’s seas and oceans. It covers products like drink stirrers, plates, and chopsticks, as eco-friendly alternatives to these products already exist.
This will, according to the European Commission, target an estimated 70% of the waste products that end up in the oceans in the region.
In response to the news, restaurants, and especially large chains, have begun to adjust their products accordingly. For example, McDonald’s has promised to speed up the move away from plastics in its branches, potentially saving over 1,000 tonnes of plastic a year.
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