European Parliament Bans Single-Use Plastics
The European Parliament has moved strongly in favour of banning single-use plastics as part of a suite of approaches to reduce plastic marine litter.
The Single-Use Plastics (SUP) Directive was adopted on 27 March with 560 votes in favour and only 35 votes against (with 28 abstentions).
The SUP Directive targets the ten single-use plastic products most often found on European beaches, as well as abandoned fishing gear and oxo-degradable plastics. A key objective is to have all plastic packaging placed on the EU market be reusable or recyclable by 2030.
Discussion on the legislation comprised a range of key issues around extended producer responsibility (EPR) and circular economy, including:
- EPR being at the heart of the legislation;
- leading a shift towards circular economy with high-quality recycling sectors;
- EU leadership in addressing plastics;
- need for revision of European packaging legislation;
- need for an action plan for microplastics; and
- potential for job creation and new product development.
A press release from the European Commission states that the SUP Directive targets marine litter through:
- “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.”
In the statement, Commissioner for environment, maritime affairs and fisheries, Karmenu Vella noted,
“We should all be very proud of these new rules because they tackle marine plastic pollution at its source – one of the most called for and supported EU initiatives among European citizens. After the favourable vote by the Parliament today, our main task will be to ensure that these ambitious measures are quickly implemented in practice, which will be common work for public authorities, producers and consumers alike.”
Following adoption by the Council of Ministers and official publication, EU Member States will have two years to transpose the legislation into their national laws.