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EU fights marine plastic pollution

June 20, 2019

Cracking down on plastic pollution, the EU Council adopted a directive in May which introduces new restrictions on certain single-use plastic products.

The formal adoption announced in May of the new rules by the Council is the final step in the procedure.

The single-use plastics directive builds on the EU’s existing waste legislation but goes further by setting stricter rules for those types of products and packaging which are among the top ten most frequently found items polluting European beaches.

The new rules ban the use of certain throwaway plastic products for which alternatives exist. In addition, specific measures are introduced to reduce the use of the most frequently littered plastic products.

Single-use plastic products are made wholly or partly of plastic and are typically intended to be used just once or for a short period of time before they are thrown away. One of the main purposes of this directive is to reduce the amount of plastic waste which we create. Under the new rules, single-use plastic plates, cutlery, straws, balloon sticks and cotton buds will be banned by 2021.

EU member states have agreed to achieve a 90 percent collection target for plastic bottles by 2029, and plastic bottles will have to contain at least 25 percent of recycled content by 2025 and 30 percent by 2030.

The Commission presented its proposal for a directive in May 2018. The Council reached its position on 31 October 2018. Negotiations with the European Parliament started on 6 November 2018 and ended in a provisional agreement on 19 December 2018, which was confirmed by EU ambassadors of the member states on 18 January 2019.

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