The European Parliament prohibits some single-use plastics for the year 2021

The European Parliament prohibits some single-use plastics for the year 2021

The European Parliament (EP) has shown its support for a package of measures aimed at reducing pollution in the oceans . The measure includes the prohibition of single- use plastics such as ear swabs, straws and plastic cutlery for the year 2021.

The European Parliament closed the plenary with 571 votes in favor, 53 against and 34 abstentions . Now the environment ministers of the EU states must agree on a common position to start negotiations between Council, Parliament and Commission to obtain a new EU regulation, which is expected to be processed by May 2019.

The legislative proposal of the Community Executive was inspired by the “success” of the European directive that requires shops to charge at least 5 cents for plastic bags in shops and responds to the plastic, subjected to a slow process of decomposition , it accumulates in seas, oceans and beaches and is ingested by turtles, seals, whales, birds, fish and shellfish, so that it ends up in the food chain.

MEPs respected in essence the initial proposal of the European Commission, which last May advocated the elimination of single-use plastic materials in everyday objects for which there are sustainable alternatives because they represent 70% of the marine garbage that pollutes European coasts .

Other products

But Parliament wants to go further than the Commission and suggests that oxo-degradable plastic products and expanded polystyrene fast food containers also disappear from the market.

The consumption of certain products that are polluting, but for which there is no alternative , will have to be reduced by at least 25% by 2025 , a category that includes single-use containers for hamburgers, sandwiches, fruits, vegetables, desserts and ice cream. In addition, the EU Member States will have to design national plans to encourage the use of products that can be reused or recycled.

Other plastics, such as bottles for beverages, must be collected separately and their recycling percentage will have to reach 90% by 2025, as proposed by the Commission.

The European Parliament also calls for “specific measures” for cigarette filters whose waste should be reduced by 50% by 2025 and by 80% by 2030 as a cigarette butt can contaminate between 500 and 1,000 liters of water and, abandoned in a ditch, can take up to twelve years to disintegrate, according to the EP.

The 28 countries that make up the European Union must also ensure that at least half of the fishing gear that contains lost or abandoned plastic is recovered, with a recycling percentage of at least 15% by 2025, according to the position approved by the Eurochamber.

Neither the European Commission nor the European Parliament contemplates a new tax on plastic , an initiative that is part of the public debate in Brussels on these polluting materials but which, for now, has not been translated into a legislative proposal.

Ecological organizations

“The European Parliament has made history betting to reduce the plastic products of a single use and limit its pollution in our seas and oceans,” said Alodia Pérez, responsible for natural resources and waste of Friends of the Earth.

They applaud that, in this new proposal, they have opted “for a more agreed and unambiguous definition of disposable plastics,” they said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

However, despite the progress made, the environmental organizations regret that the new document does not contemplate the elimination of very light plastic bags , which had been previously included in the proposal of the Committee of the Environment of the European Parliament.

Greenpeace, which shares the same position as Friends of the Earth, adds that some of the main polluters of plastics, such as Coca-Cola, Nestle, PepsiCo or Danone, “are putting pressure on environmental ministries of member countries to weaken the Directive”.