The Council of the EU has adopted ambitious measures proposed by the commission to tackle marine litter coming from the 10 single-use plastic products most often found on European beaches, as well as abandoned fishing gear and oxo-degradable plastics.
The rules on Single-Use Plastics items and fishing gear envisage different measures to apply to different product and place the EU at the forefront of the global fight against marine litter. Where alternatives are easily available and affordable, single-use plastic products will be banned from the market, such as cutlery, plates and straws. For other products, the focus is on limiting their use through a national reduction in consumption; on design and labelling requirements; and waste management/clean-up obligations for producers.
First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, responsible for sustainable development said: "There is a growing sense of urgency in European society to do whatever it takes to stop plastic pollution in our oceans. The European Union is responding to this clear call of our citizens. We have taken ambitious steps by introducing concrete measures to reduce the use of single-use plastics. The new rules adopted today will help us to protect the health of our people and safeguard our natural environment, while promoting more sustainable production and consumption. We can all be proud that Europe is setting new and ambitious standards, paving the way for the rest of the world."
Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness, added: "In a modern economy we have to reduce the amount of plastic litter and make sure we recycle most of the plastics used. More innovative and sustainable ways of production will bring new opportunities for European businesses, increasing their competitiveness, growth and job creation. Once implemented, the new rules will not only tackle plastic pollution, but also make the European Union the world leader in a more sustainable plastic policy, thus driving forward our circular economy."
Commissioner for environment, maritime affairs and fisheries, Karmenu Vella concluded: "Plastic straws or forks are little objects but can make great, long-lasting damages. The single-use plastics legislation will address 70 percent of marine litters items, avoiding environmental damage that would otherwise cost €22 billion by 2030. The EU has delivered fast and effectively on a proposal the Commission presented just one year ago. All in all, it's European legislation at its best – responding to popular demand, benefiting the planet as well its inhabitants, and genuinely leading the world."
The new rules are proportionate and tailored to get the best results. This means different measures will be applied to different products. The new rules will introduce:
- A ban on selected single-use products made of plastic for which alternatives exist on the market: cotton bud sticks, cutlery, plates, straws, stirrers, sticks for balloons, as well as cups, food and beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene and on all products made of oxo-degradable plastic.
- Measures to reduce consumption of food containers and beverage cups made of plastic and specific marking and labelling of certain products.
- Extended Producer Responsibility schemes covering the cost to clean-up litter, applied to products such as tobacco filters and fishing gear.
- A 90% separate collection target for plastic bottles by 2029 (77% by 2025) and the introduction of design requirements to connect caps to bottles, as well as target to incorporate 25% of recycled plastic in PET bottles as from 2025 and 30% in all plastic bottles as from 2030.