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EU leaders strike deal to ban disposable plastic straws, cutlery, and plates

If formally endorsed, prohibition would start in 2021

by Cheryl Hogue
December 26, 2018

Photo shows plastic straws and cutlery.
Credit: Shutterstock
Legislation from European Union lawmakers would outlaw some single-use plastic items.

The market for single-use plastic cutlery, plates, and straws in the European Union would drop sharply under a deal reached by EU leaders Dec. 20.

A plan provisionally agreed to by the European Parliament and the European Council would ban several plastic products in EU countries by 2021. Lawmakers in Parliament and the council, which consists of the heads of EU member countries, will have to endorse the deal in 2019 for the ban to take effect.

The prohibition is focused on single-use plastic consumer items that are found in greatest numbers on EU shorelines. It covers cups made of expanded polystyrene, ear swabs with plastic sticks, and products made with transition metal–based oxo-degradable additives. Some companies have claimed that oxo-degradable plastics don’t add to marine plastic pollution but an investigation by the United Nations found otherwise.

The pending agreement also calls for mandatory labeling on certain products containing plastic, including cigarette filters, single-use cups, and sanitary napkins, laying out their negative environmental impacts. It also sets a goal to collect 90% of plastic bottles used in the EU by 2029.


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