EU announces new rules to reduce single-use plastics

© Lorenzo Moscia / Greenpeace – Greenpeace activists have mounted in front of Pantheon, in the centre of Rome, a reproduction of two whales, which arise from a sea full of plastic waste. The right intentions are there, but the binding targets are not. Back in October, I reported on the European Union’s vote to ban disposable plastics by 2021. Since then there have been intense negotiations that resulted in today’s release of new laws outlining how the EU is going to tackle this issue. Most things haven’t changed from the original vote and will be familiar to anyone following the story. There will be bans on single-use plastic items "where alternatives are easily available and affordable." These include plastic cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers, sticks for balloons, products made of oxo-degradable plastic, and food and beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene. Extended Producer Responsibility schemes will ensure that manufacturers are forced to take greater responsibility for cleaning up their waste – specifically, plastic cigarette filters, which are the most polluted item in Europe, and fishing gear. There will be a requirement for Member States to monitor collection rates of rogue fishing nets and set national collection […]

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