It has been a well-known fact for some time that plastic waste represents an immense problem, in particular from a global view. Nevertheless, the initiative by the Commission from 28th May 2018 is remarkable as it recommends no less than the ban on plastic products, which are also available and affordable from other materials. Apart from plastic plates and cutlery, the range also includes straws and plastic cotton buds.
The EU Commission has been making the subject of waste management and circular economy a key issue for some time. The 2015 Circular Economy Package was followed by the Plastic Strategy at the start of the year, which aimed at reducing the use of plastic and to increase the recycling rate. The Commission presented a concrete Draft Directive on Monday, 28th May to implement the strategy. The measures reach from awareness raising measures to extended producer responsibility and further to banning certain plastic products.
Single-use products, which may no longer circulate after this Directive has come into force, include cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers, plastic cotton buds and balloon sticks made of plastic. As these products are also available in other materials than plastic at comparable prices, this is a ban, which in view of the Commission has no adverse effects on citizens. Single-use drinks containers, which contain plastic, should only be allowed on the market if their caps and lids remain attached.
With regard to other plastic products, such as food containers, wet wipes or cigarette butts, manufacturers shall be obliged to help bearing the cost he costs of waste management and clean-up. Apart from that, the industry shall be given incentives to develop alternatives, which are less harmful to the environment. 90 % of plastic single-use bottles shall have to be collected by 2025. Apart from that, Member States have to take measures to make citizens aware of the negative impact of the incorrect disposal of single-use plastic products.
The ball is now in the corner of Parliament and Council, which discuss this proposal and have to find a common position. According to the Commission, it would be desirable if the three EU Institutions were able to present concrete results before the European Elections at the end of May 2019.
The Commission has produced impressive figures to show that action is needed with regard to plastic waste. Plastics make up 85% of marine litter. The ten most frequent plastic products, which are addressed by this Regulation, account for almost 70 % of ocean pollution.