The European Parliament has agreed on measures put forward by the European Commission to address marine litter coming from the 10 single-use plastic products cited as having been most often found on European beaches.
The rules on single-use plastic items are part of a wider EU Plastics Strategy, which the EU calls “the most comprehensive strategy in the world adopting a material-specific lifecycle approach with the vision and objectives to have all plastic packaging placed on the EU market as reusable or recyclable [as possible] by 2030.”
“Today, we have taken an important step to reduce littering and plastic pollution in our oceans and seas,” states Frans Timmermans, the EP’s first vice president, responsible for sustainable development. “We got this, we can do this. Europe is setting new and ambitious standards, paving the way for the rest of the world.”
The banned items reportedly include sanitary hygiene products, cigarette butts, plastic plates, balloon sticks, and food and beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam.
Some European trade associations have raised questions about the policy’s details. Brussels-based Europen, whose members create and sell packaged products, says it “supports the EU’s overarching objectives of taking bold action against litter and marine litter in particular,” also says it is calling on the European Commission and member states “to clarify without delay the provisions in legislation that remain ambiguous, in order to ensure unified implementation across Europe.”
Within the nonwovens industry, the topic of plastic waste has become an important one in recent months. Berry Global, the largest maker of nonwovens globally, and Procter & Gamble, the maker of Pampers diapers, have both joined the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW), currently made up of nearly 30 member companies, which is focused on helping end plastic waste in the environment. The Alliance will develop and bring to scale solutions that will minimize and manage plastic waste and promote solutions for used plastics by helping to enable a circular economy. The Alliance membership represents global companies and located throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
“Everyone agrees that plastic waste does not belong in our oceans or anywhere in the environment. This is a complex and serious global challenge that calls for swift action and strong leadership. This new alliance is the most comprehensive effort to date to end plastic waste in the environment,” says David Taylor, chairman of the Board, president and CEO of Procter & Gamble, and chairman of the AEPW. “I urge all companies, big and small and from all regions and sectors, to join us."