The European Commission has released a proposal for new rules on single-use plastic in an attempt to reduce maritime pollution.
In a communiqué issued on 28 May 2018, the commission stated its determination to tackle the amount of harmful litter in the oceans by setting down rules that will target the ten most-used plastic products, as well as lost fishing gear.
According to the commission, “Together these constitute 70% of all marine litter items,” and it proposes the following among its recommendations:
A plastic ban on certain products where alternatives are available and affordable (plastic cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers, and sticks for balloons, as well as single-use drinks containers);
Consumption reduction targets: member states will have to reduce the use of plastic food containers and drinks cups used;
Obligations for producers: producers will help cover the costs of waste management and clean-up, as well as awareness-raising measures for food containers, packets and wrappers (such as for crisps and sweets), drinks containers and cups, tobacco products with filters (such as cigarette butts), wet wipes, balloons, and lightweight plastic bags. The industry will also be given incentives to develop less polluting alternatives for these products;
Collection targets: member states will be required to collect 90% of single-use plastic drinks bottles by 2025;
Labelling requirements: Certain products will require a clear and standardised labelling which indicates how waste should be disposed of, the negative environmental impact of the product, and the presence of plastics in the products. This will apply to sanitary towels, wet wipes and balloons.
These proposals will now go to the European Parliament for adoption.