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The EU is going to ban single-use coffee cups by 2030

Around 26 million tonnes of plastic waste is generated in Europe every year, but only 30% of that is recycled.

Image: Shutterstock/Tanoy1412

SINGLE-USE PLASTICS, such as coffee cups, are to be banned in the EU by 2030, in a bid to fight pollution.

The strategy announced by the European Commission, the EU-executive, follows China’s decision to ban imports of foreign waste products for recycling, including huge quantities from Europe.

It outlined plans for all packaging in Europe to be recyclable by 2030.

“The commission aims to increase plastic recycling and for all plastic packaging to be reusable or recyclable by 2030,” the executive said.

Around 26 million tonnes of plastic waste is generated in Europe every year, according to the Commission. However, less than 30% of such waste is collected for recycling. 70% of plastic waste is put in landfills or incinerated.

The Commission said its proposals also aim to create business opportunities by transforming the way plastic products are designed, produced and recycled in Europe.

The EU currently exports half of its collected and sorted plastics, 85% of which goes to China.

Commission first vice president Frans Timmermans said: “We must stop plastics getting into our water, our food and even our bodies. The only long-term solution is to reduce plastic waste by recycling and reusing more.

The Chinese decision is undoubtedly a big challenge but let’s turn that challenge into an opportunity.

The Commission’s strategy aims to rid the seas and oceans from the “700 kilogrammes” of plastics it says get washed up each day, and it “will take measures to limit the use of microplastics” found in cosmetics and detergents.

The EU has set a target of having 55% of all plastic recycled by 2030.

The Commission’s strategy said: “Meeting these targets in practice will need improvements in the way plastics are designed and produced, increased cooperation between all actors involved in their life cycle. The systems for waste management need to modernise too.”

Ireland’s crisis

TheJournal.ie reported last week that Ireland’s increasing waste and plastic levels are soon to meet emergency levels following China’s ban, which came into effect on 1 January.

China took 95% of Ireland’s plastic waste in 2016, but a ban will mean that’s no longer possible. While many other European nations are searching for alternative waste-management solutions, Ireland is in a particularly dire situation.

Ireland is the top producer of plastic waste in the European Union, according to the latest Eurostat figures.

The statistics show that of Europe’s top five plastic waste offenders (calculated per capita), Ireland is top of the pile, producing 61 kilogrammes per person, per year.

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It’s understood government officials and Environment Minister Denis Naughten have held meetings on the issue over the past number of weeks.

The Green Party has called on the government to take decisive action in light of the Chinese ban, stating that the UK’s plastic waste is already mounting.

Further information about Ireland’s recycling crisis can be read here.

Tax plans

The proposals did not contain plans for a tax on plastic packaging, which budget commissioner Guenther Oettinger proposed last week to fight pollution and to help plug a hole of around 13 billion euros in the bloc’s budget caused by Brexit.

“We have not found a way to introduce a European-wide plastic tax yet,” Vice President Jyrki Katainen, who is responsible for jobs and investment, told reporters.

“It is too early to promise anything.”

With reporting by Christina Finn and AFP. 

Read: China took 95% of Ireland’s plastic waste – but now it’s changed its mind and we’re in trouble

More: Over half of Irish people want a ban on single-use coffee cups

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