A new agreement between the European Parliament and Council on a Single Use Plastics Directive designed to “clamp down on single use plastics that take five seconds to produce, are used for five minutes and yet take 500 years to break down,” Mairead McGuinness MEP and first Vice-President of the European Parliament said today.
The MEP said the Directive will include far-reaching measures to combat plastic marine litter.
“According to the World Economic Forum, there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050 – if plastic waste continues to end up in the ocean at the present rate.
“The directive is a small step to protect our health and the health of our planet,” said the Midlands North-West MEP.
“Single use plastics are a very serious problem which the EU is tackling.
“In February, researchers from NUIG found that 73pc of deep sea fish had ingested plastic fragments.
“Plastic cutlery (forks, knives, spoons and chopsticks), plastic plates, plastic straws and plastic cotton bud sticks will be banned, as will food containers and beverage cups made of expanded polystyrene,” she said.
All products made from this type of oxo-degradable plastic will be banned because of the harmful effects of this type of plastic on the environment – it contributes to microplastic pollution. It is also confusing as it is not a truly biodegradable plastic.
Wet-wipes and tobacco products containing plastic will be obliged to carry a marking informing consumers of the presence of plastic and the potential harm if these items are not properly disposed of in the bin.
“Tobacco product filters containing plastic are the second most littered single-use plastic items in the EU,” the MEP said. “Now, producers of plastic tobacco filters will be required to cover the costs for public collection systems for cigarette stubs.”
The latest special EU Barometer indicated that 75pc of citizens are concerned about plastic waste. This agreement is a tangible step to address public concerns.
The next step involves seeking confirmation by EU ambassadors of member states. The directive would then be submitted for approval to the European Parliament and then back to the Council for final adoption.