According to the European Commission, more than 80% of marine litter is plastics.
The products covered by these restrictions constitute 70% of all marine litter items. Due to its slow rate of decomposition, plastic accumulates in seas, oceans and on beaches in the EU and worldwide. Plastic residue is found in marine species – such as sea turtles, seals, whales and birds, but also in fish and shellfish, and therefore in the human food chain.
While plastics are a convenient, adaptable, useful and economically valuable material, they need to be better used, re-used and recycled. When littered, the economic impact of plastics encompasses not just the lost economic value in the material, but also the costs of cleaning up and losses for tourism, fisheries and shipping.
On October 24th, 2018, members of the European Parliament introduced the new law on the ban of single-use plastic products. Under the legislation, single-use plastic products such as cutlery, straws, plates, cups and other food containers, which made up over 70% of marine litter, will be banned across the EU by 2021.
Lead MEP Frédérique Ries stated that “We have adopted the most ambitious legislation against single-use plastics. 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.”
For more details on the legislation, please visit https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20181018IPR16524/plastic-oceans-meps-back-eu-ban-on-throwaway-plastics-by-2021.