EU Parliament Votes To Ban Single-Use Plastic By 2021 In Bid To Save Oceans

One MEP warned there will be 'more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050'
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A turtle and a plastic bottle

Plans will be drawn up to recycle 90% of plastic bottles

The EU Parliament has voted to ban a range of single-use plastic items by 2021 in a race to save the oceans.

The Union-wide ban would cover plastic cutlery, plates, cotton buds, straws, drink-stirrers, and balloon sticks - which make up 70 percent of marine litter.

A majority of 571-53 backed the proposals. MEP Frédérique Ries, behind the bill, described the vote as 'a victory for our oceans, for the environment and for future generations'.

Reduction

Under the proposals, other items for which no alternatives exist - including single-use burger boxes, sandwich boxes or food containers for fruits, vegetables, desserts or ice- creams - have to be reduced by 25 percent by Member States.

National plans will be drafted by Member States to encourage the use of products suitable for multiple use, as well as re-using and recycling.

In addition, by 2025, other plastics including drinks bottles, will have to be collected separately and recycled at a rate of 90 percent.

Plastic straws

Plastic straws would be banned under the proposals

The proposals

"We have adopted the most ambitious legislation against single-use plastics," Frédérique Ries added. "It is up to us now to stay the course in the upcoming negotiations with the Council, due to start as early as November.

"Today's vote paves the way to a forthcoming and ambitious directive. It is essential in order to protect the marine environment and reduce the costs of environmental damage attributed to plastic pollution in Europe, estimated at 22 billion euros by 2030."

The bill is expected to go through - despite having to clear some further procedures.

Disability rights

Policies banning plastic straws have been criticized by multiple people with disabilities, as plastic straws are essential for some.

According to non-profit organization Disability Rights Washington: "Many people with physical disabilities such as cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis require the use of plastic straws in order to hydrate.

"Other types of straws simply do not offer the combination of strength, flexibility, and safety that plastic straws do."

It is not yet clear for how the EU will mitigate these needs.