In light of the plastic waste problem in Europe, the EU has been moving closer to banning single-use plastics for some time now.
Now, the top 10 most used single-use plastics have been banned. The ban, which starts this week, means plastic bottles, coffee cups, straws, takeaway containers, and other items made from expanded polystyrene, are no longer allowed to be sold in the European Union.
Because expanded polystyrene breaks down into white plastic balls, it’s more likely to end up on beaches where it’s often eaten by birds and fish.
This law aims to prevent the impact of these products on the environment to protect human and animal health and to help create more sustainable business models.
The new law is called the Single-Use Plastics Directive and now needs to be enforced by all 27 EU member states. From 3rd July, countries that don’t meet their obligations will face fines.
Which items are affected by the ban?
It’s estimated that 50% of all litter found on European beaches is single-use plastic. To determine which items should be banned, the Commission used litter data from their research.
One of the key findings from this was that 90% of all single-use plastic items found on the beaches in Europe consisted of 10 different items, and these will be banned as long as there’s no alternative material available.
Some products, like wet wipes, period products, and cigarette butts, currently don’t have an alternative sustainable option, so they won’t be covered by the ban at the moment. However, these items will need to have warning labels.
Other single-use items like takeaway containers, coffee cups, food wrappers, and plastic bottles – which are some of the most littered items – will need to be made of alternative materials.
All EU countries will have two years to implement the rules in the directive in national law. Some countries have already enforced some measures, but others have not implemented any yet.
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