The EU is making changes to #GoGreenForTheBigBlue!

 Photo by Metamag

Photo by Metamag

The EU is making changes to #GoGreenForTheBigBlue!


EU lawmakers have approved measures that may lead to the ban of single-use plastics by 2021, which is great news for our oceans.


Earlier this year, the European Commission sought to target and reduce the top 10 single-use plastics found on European beaches or at sea. Together with abandoned fishing gear, single-use plastics account for 70% of all marine litter.


The types of single use plastics targeted include:

  • Daily use plastics:  straws, cotton swabs, plastic plates and cutlery, plastic coffee stirrers and plastic balloon holders, lightweight plastic bags and polystyrene fast-food containers

  • Plastic food containers, such as the ones used for take-away, and cups for beverages

Lawmakers have also made a number of related propositions in regards to waste management and raising awareness to complement the reduction of  plastic waste. Parliament supported these proposals with a 571-53 majority. Producers would help cover costs of cleanup, as well as raise awareness about the polluting impacts of  cigarette butts, wet wipes, balloons, plastic bags and candy and potato chip wrappers. A few of these products, including wipes, balloons, and menstrual pads, will be required to have additional labeling about proper disposal.

Proposals for member states included a deposit refund scheme or similar measures to collect 90 percent of single-use plastic bottles by 2025, as well as raise awareness about the negative impacts of single-use plastic products upon disposal.

The European Commision will begin to negotiate with member states on how to adopt the ban. Different products will require different strategies. Where alternatives are readily available and affordable - such as metal or bamboo drinks straws or reusable takeaway coffee cups as examples - laws will be introduced to downscale and eventually ban the original plastic products from the market. Some products will require a reduction strategy and producers will be required to have waste management and labelling requirements. Proposals will now go to the European Parliament, and lawmakers hope to have swift results by no later than May 2019.

The proposals by the European Commission are a great step in the right direction for mitigating some of the negative impacts on the marine environment from single-use plastics. Hopefully, these proposals shall inspire other countries, businesses, and individuals to make the right choices and encourage consumers to incorporate more sustainable practices into their daily lives!