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EU Parliament votes for ban of disposable plastic from 2021

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Plastic straws
From 2021, certain dispoable plastic products, such as straws, will be banned within the EU. © Pixabay/Kapa65

Yesterday, the European Parliament voted in favour of a ban on disposable plastics with 560 votes. In addition to plastic cutlery, other products are affected. Further, the ban also includes lower CO2 limits for vehicles, new recycling targets and the strengthening of the polluter pays principle. Once the Member States have finally adopted the new directive, the standards will take effect from 2021.

Ban on certain disposable plastic products for the protection of the seas

According to the European Commission, more than 80% of the waste in the sea is plastic. As the decomposition process of plastics is slow, the amount of this waste in the seas, oceans and beaches is constantly increasing. Plastic residues are absorbed by marine animals and enter the human food chain.

The recently adopted regulations focus on disposable plastic products, which in Europe are most commonly found on beaches and in the sea, accounting for around 70% of all marine waste:

  • disposable plastic cutlery (forks, knives, spoons and chopsticks)
  • disposable plastic plates
  • plastic straws
  • plastic cotton buds
  • balloon holding rods
  • products made of oxo degradable materials such as bags or packaging and fast food containers made of expanded polystyrene

CO2 limits for new cars

In addition to the plastics ban, the Parliament also voted for C02 limits for new cars and light commercial vehicles. Cars are to emit 15% less by 2025. By 2030 it should be 37.5%. The Council, Commission and Parliament agreed on this value as a compromise in their negotiations. For light commercial vehicles there is a separate, less ambitious target: 31% by 2030. The member states must also give their final approval before the regulation can come into force.

Rethinking recycling

The EU has also drawn up a new directive on recycling. By 2029, the EU member states must collect 90% of plastic bottles separately. Furthermore, binding targets of 25% by 2025 and 30% by 2030 have been set for the content of recycled plastic in bottles. From 2024, plastic beverage containers may only be sold if the closures and lids are attached to the container. The member states should also reduce the consumption of to-go-cups. With the new regulations, the EU is aiming to save further CO2 emissions.

More responsibility for perpetrators and consumers

The new EU directive aims to strengthen the polluter-pays principle and to make manufacturers of environmentally harmful products more accountable - in future, they should contribute more to the costs of waste management, cleaning and awareness-raising. In particular, the tobacco industry will be made more responsible for the disposal of cigarette butts. Such a regulation would also apply to fishing gear in order to ensure that manufacturers, not fishermen, bear the costs of collecting nets lost at sea.


"This legislation will reduce the cost of environmental damage by 22 billion euros. These are the estimated costs of plastic pollution in Europe until 2030. Europe now has a legal framework that must be defended and promoted at international level, given the global nature of the problem of marine plastic pollution," said rapporteur Frédérique Ries, Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.


The Directive also contains measures to encourage consumers to be more aware. Products with a particularly high plastic content, such as moist personal care and household wipes, must be labelled with instructions on how to dispose of them appropriately. In addition, their packaging should communicate the environmental damage it can cause if it is simply thrown away somewhere.


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Germany: Microplastic in food worries consumers

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Chile as first Latin American country to ban plastic bags

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