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Dublin: 10 °C Sunday 7 June, 2020

EU reaches landmark agreement to cut usage of single-use plastics

The directive will come into effect in two years time if it is passed.

Image: Shutterstock

THE EUROPEAN UNION has agreed upon laws that would cut the usage of single-use plastics across the bloc.

The directive, which still requires the official approval of EU states and the European parliament, will come into effect in two years time if it is passed.

It follows a proposal by the European Commission in May to ban a range of single-use plastic items such as straws, cotton buds and cutlery.

The measures agreed yesterday include banning those items, as well as expanded polystyrene food containers and beverage cups.

They would also ensure that manufacturers paid for waste management and the clean-up of other single-use plastic items, including plastic cigarette butts and fishing gear.

However, some campaigners argue that yesterday’s agreement falls short of what is necessary to tackle the problem of single-use plastics across the continent.

Concerns have been raised over the lack of binding EU-wide target to reduce the consumption of single-use plastics, with the aim for countries to “significantly reduce” their consumption considered too vague.

Meadhbh Bolger, resource justice campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe on behalf of Rethink Plastic, said that the plastics lobby was attempting to delay and weaken the ambition of the proposals.

“Citizens across Europe want to see an end to our throwaway culture and politicians have taken the first step,” she said.

“The time is ripe for Europe to transition away from single-use plastics to reusables.”

Environment ministers across the EU are expected to sign off on the agreed directive today, with member states being given two years to transpose it into their national laws, which would come into force at the start of 2021 at the latest. has contacted the Department of the Environment to confirm whether Minister Richard Bruton will sign off on the agreement today.

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