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EU adopts plastics ban

European member states have two years to turn legislation into national law

by Laura Howes
May 22, 2019 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 97, Issue 21


Limiting litter

EU countries now have two years to implement laws to ban or limit single-use plastics.
Source:European Commission.

Europe’s single-use plastics ban was formally adopted on May 21 in Brussels by the Council of the European Union, a meeting of ministers from the different countries in the union. The European Parliament had passed the legislation in March, with the goal to reduce marine litter.

Plastic cotton swab sticks, cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers, and sticks for balloons will need to be made with more sustainable materials by 2021. Single-use plastic drink containers will be allowed only if their caps remain attached. Plastic bottles will also need to be made of at least 30% recycled plastic by 2030.

For products without cheap and easy nonplastic alternatives, such as wet wipes and fishing gear, the focus is on limiting use. Producers of these products will be obliged to help cover cleanup costs and to promote awareness of litter and waste management options.

Now the ban has passed the union level, the individual countries within the EU have two years to transpose the legislation into their national law.


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