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EU Votes NO on Single-Use Plastics | Our Daily Planet

The European Parliament voted this past week to ban all single-use plastic items, including straws, food containers, cotton buds, and cutlery by 2021. The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of the ban; 560 MEPs voting in favor of the agreement, 35 voting against it, and 28 abstaining.

The EU’s Call to Action: The new plans come after the European Commission found that plastics make up more than 80% of marine litter, which has disastrous effects on wildlife and habitats. The EU parliament notes that because of its slow rate of decomposition, plastic residue has been found in marine species as well as fish and shellfish — and therefore also makes its way into the human food chain.
The Pressure’s on Manufacturers: As CNN explained,
  • Under the new European law, tobacco companies will be required to cover the costs for the collection of cigarette butts and manufacturers of fishing gear will also have to pay for the retrieval of any plastic nets that have been left at sea.
  • There’s also a new focus on further raising public awareness, where producers of items such as tobacco filters, plastic cups, sanitary towels and wet wipes will be required to clearly explain to users how to appropriately dispose of them.
Cleans Up Plastic, Save Money: MEP Frédérique Ries explained that “This legislation will reduce the environmental damage bill by €22 billion – the estimated cost of plastic pollution in Europe until 2030.” In addition, MEPs also agreed to a provision requiring EU member states to achieve a 90% collection target for plastic bottles by 2029, as well as a mandate that plastic bottles must contain at least 25% recycled content by 2025 and 30% by 2030.
Why This Matters: Our planet is choking on plastic and legislative bodies have been slow to act and help solve the problem. While Europe isn’t the world’s biggest plastic polluter, this is the most significant legislation across the world to curb plastic and put the onus on manufacturers to properly dispose of the items they sell. It can also serve as a model for other governments. The EU explained in a press release that “Europe now has a legislative model to defend and promote at an international level, given the global nature of the issue of marine pollution involving plastics. This is essential for the planet.”

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