The European Parliament has voted to ban single-use plastic items as part of a new larger directive. A directive tackling the waste plastic found on our beaches which is ultimately polluting our oceans, seas and waterways.

560 MEPs voted in favour of the agreement with EU ministers, 35 against and 28 abstained.

By 2021, the following products will be banned in the EU:

  • Single-use plastic cutlery (forks, knives, spoons and chopsticks)
  • Single-use plastic plates
  • Plastic straws
  • Cotton bud sticks made of plastic
  • Plastic balloon sticks
  • Oxo-degradable plastics and food containers and expanded polystyrene cups

New recycling targets introduced

European Member states have also been set some new recycling targets and will have to introduce new measures to reduce the use of plastic food containers and plastic lids for hot drinks. The new directive states that by 2025, plastic bottles should be made of 25% recycled content, and by 2029 90% of them should be recycled.

The agreement also strengthens the ‘polluter pays’ principle, in particular for tobacco, by introducing extended responsibility for producers. It will also include manufacturers of fishing nets meaning that companies – not fishing crews – pay the cost of nets lost at sea.

Labels highlighting affects of plastic waste now mandatory on cigarettes

The legislation finally stipulates that labelling on the negative environmental impact of throwing cigarettes with plastic filters in the street should be mandatory, as well as for other products such as plastic cups, wet wipes and sanitary napkins.

Frans Timmermans, a European Commission vice-president, who has spearheaded the plan, said: “Today we have taken an important step to reduce littering and plastic pollution in our oceans and seas. We got this, we can do this. Europe is setting new and ambitious standards, paving the way for the rest of the world.”