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'Ambitious' single-use plastic straws and cutlery ban approved by European Council

This was the final step in adopting the single-use products ban, which will come into force in Ireland by 2021.

Image: Shutterstock/Africa Studio

THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL has adopted a directive which introduces new restrictions on certain single-use plastic products, which includes a ban on single-use plastic straws, plates and cutlery by 2021.

They will set strict rules for reducing the type of products and packaging which are among the top ten most frequently found items polluting European beaches.

Where alternatives are easily available and affordable, single-use plastic products will be banned from the market, such as cutlery, plates and straws. For other products, efforts will be made to limit their use through design and labelling, and clean-up obligations for those who manufacture them.

In March, the European Parliament voted by 560 votes to 35 to adopt the new laws, which would ban 70% of marine litters items. The formal adoption of the new rules by the Council today is the final step in the procedure.

After today’s approval by the European Council,  the text will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union; the directive will enter into force 20 days after the publication.

EU member states, including Ireland, will then have two years to transpose the legislation into their national law.

Member states have agreed to achieve a 90% collection target for plastic bottles by 2029, and plastic bottles will have to contain at least 25% of recycled content by 2025 and 30% by 2030.

Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune said: “Figures show that plastic production is 20 times higher now than in the 1960s and is set to quadruple again by 2050.

Reducing the amount of plastics in our oceans and on our beaches is vital to protect marine life and also to ensure that fish, and as a result the food chain, are not further contaminated by plastics.

“Ireland has led the way on the fight against plastic when it introduced the levy on plastic bags in 2002, resulting in a 90% drop in the use of plastic bags in Ireland.”

First Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans, responsible for sustainable development said:

“There is a growing sense of urgency in European society to do whatever it takes to stop plastic pollution in our oceans. The European Union is responding to this clear call of our citizens.

The new rules adopted today will help us to protect the health of our people and safeguard our natural environment, while promoting more sustainable production and consumption.

“We can all be proud that Europe is setting new and ambitious standards, paving the way for the rest of the world.”

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