The EU's plastics strategy gained momentum after China banned the import of foreign waste for recycling at the beginning of this year. This yr, Belgium, Denmark and Scotland are planning to ban a number of single-use plastic merchandise, and Italy, Portugal and Spain are anticipated to introduce related measures within the coming years. France banned ultralight weight plastic baggage in 2015, and Italy did so in 2016. "Plastic waste is undeniably a big issue and Europeans need to act together to tackle this problem, because plastic waste ends up in our air, our soil, our oceans, and in our food", he said.
According to the Commission, the new proposals could have major economic and environmental benefits. However, plastic in our ocean is a global issue that also demands a global solution.
Across the world, plastics make up 85 per cent of marine litter, the Commission said. Awareness-raising measures will inform citizens of the urgency of reducing plastic litter, and remind them of the available re-use and waste management options. Tackling the plastics problem is a must and it can bring new opportunities for innovation, competitiveness and job creation. "We call on the European Parliament and EU Ministers to put in place such targets and set a shorter review period to ensure an effective and swift move beyond single-use plastics". Plastic products account for 70 percent of marine litter.
Some of the most common single-use plastics, from straws and cutlery to cotton buds and balloon sticks, will be banned across Europe.
The new measures also include obligations for producers to help cover the costs of clean-up and waste management for items such as cigarette butts, wet wipes and lightweight plastic bags.
Ahead of today's presentation, Friends of the Earth Europe campaigner Meadhbh Bolger said a lack of "specific EU-wide reduction targets for food and beverage containers" could be a "potential downfall" and that a revision should be made after three years and not the planned six. 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.
Companies that produce plastic products might also be required to contribute to waste disposal costs - for example, getting the makers of plastic fishing gear to pay for the cost of collecting waste from a port.