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European Union sets rules for reducing single-use plastics

European Union sets rules for reducing single-use plastics

Some items on the list, such as cotton buds and plastic cutlery, plates, straws and stirrers, will be banned entirely and replaced with "sustainable alternatives".

Ten items reportedly "make up 70% of all litter in EU waters and on beaches", prompting the European Commission to propose the ban. "By reducing the amount of unnecessary plastic we produce, we can make a real difference to the global marine litter crisis", Oceana Europe executive director Lasse Gustavsson said in a statement. While there have been smaller-scale bans on single-use plastic items-Seattle and Malibu are both introducing such measures, and the U.K.is considering the same-an EU-wide push would be a very big deal indeed.

Vancouver is set to become the first major Canadian city to ban single-use plastic straws, polystyrene cups, and take-out containers.

According to the Commission, the new proposals could have major economic and environmental benefits.

European Union countries will have to reduce the use of plastic food containers and drinks cups. Companies will also be offered incentives to develop less polluting alternatives.

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The Commission is mostly aiming to change the behaviour of consumers, rather than slap extra charges on plastic products that will continue to be available on the market.

The Commission also said it would force producers to assist on covering the costs of waste management and clean-up, as well as awareness-raising measures for food containers, packets, and crisps packets and candies, drink containers and cups, cigarette butts, wet wipes, sanitary pads, balloons, and lightweight plastic bags. Also, the use of plastic cups and packaging for fast food should also be curbed. Plastics Europe, a trade group representing European manufacturers, criticized the proposal, saying in a press release that "plastic product bans are not the solution" and "alternative products may not be more sustainable". Improved waste management of abandoned and lost fishing gear, which accounts for nearly 30 percent of Europe's beach litter, is also mandated in the proposal.

Producers of fishing gear - which accounts for 27 percent of beach litter - will be required to cover the costs of waste collection in ports. The Commission hopes that raising awareness in the fishing industry will help anglers and trawlers recover their equipment once it reaches the end of its life-cycle.

The proposal will need to be approved by the European Parliament and the national governments of the EU. The Commission urges the other institutions to treat this as a priority file, and to deliver tangible results for Europeans before the elections in May 2019.


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