European Union proposes ban on plastic straws, cutlery

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The EU executive proposed to cut funds to poorer regions of the bloc in the 2021-2027 budget, in a move expected to trigger fresh criticism from Poland, Hungary and other eastern European states that have relied on EU funds in recent years to fuel strong economic growth.

Across the world, plastics make up 85% of marine litter. We can lead the way.

The proposed rules are tailored for the different products.

The European Union (EU) is proposing a ban on straws and other single-use plastics to help protect marine life.

Some items on the list, such as cotton buds and plastic cutlery, plates, straws and stirrers, will be banned entirely and replaced with "sustainable alternatives".

The Commission also said it would force producers to assist on covering the costs of waste management and clean-up, as well as awareness-raising measures for food containers, packets, and crisps packets and candies, drink containers and cups, cigarette butts, wet wipes, sanitary pads, balloons, and lightweight plastic bags. For SUP items that don't have available replacements, various measures will reduce the waste and discourage inappropriate disposal, as well as ensuring that the costs of such wastes fall on the producers of the single-use plastic items, in line with the EU's strong "polluter pays" principle. Collecting single-use plastic from waste bins and cleaning ocean plastic pollution costs Vancouver taxpayers an average of $2.5 million per year. Environmentalists estimate that over one billion straws are thrown away daily. Unless drastic action is taken, researchers warn we might have more plastic trash than fish in the oceans by 2050.

"Implementation of this proposal will aim to reduce littering by more than half for the ten single use plastic items, avoiding environmental damage which would otherwise cost EUR223 billion by 2030". And plastics are even reaching people's lungs and dinner tables, with micro-plastics in the air, water and food having an unknown impact on their health.

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The Commission writes now that tackling the plastics problem is a must and can bring new opportunities for innovation, competitiveness and job creation.

The plastics proposal was widely embraced by conservation campaigners, though they challenged European leaders to go further.

The directive was praised by environmental organizations. There is an estimated 150m tonnes of plastic in the world's oceans.

European Commissiom First Vice-President Frans Timmermans gives a joint press with his Vice-President on legislative measures to fight against single-use plastic waste at the EU headquarters in Brussels on May 28, 2018.

Producers will also, along with governments, need to contribute to awareness-raising campaigns created to better educate consumers about the reuse and recycling options available, as well as the negative impact on the environment caused by single-use items.

"The plastics problem is not only on our beaches", he added.

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