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  • Writer's pictureAna Štrbenac

Plastic, not fantastic! Let's change consumers behavior!

Updated: Aug 25, 2018

We are still floating in the sea of plastic. According to the Ellen MacArthur’s Foundation 2016 report, if we continue piling plastic waste with the same intensity as today, in 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea than fish!

One piece of good news is that the EU plans to combat the plastic waste problem with changing consumers behaviour. Namely, end of May, the European Commission proposed introduction of new rules for 10 single-use plastic products most often found on Europe's beaches and seas, together with lost and abandoned fishing gear.

Concretely, the new rules will introduce:

  • Plastic ban in certain products: Where alternatives are readily available and affordable, single-use plastic products will be banned from the market. The ban will apply to plastic cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers and sticks for balloons which will all have to be made exclusively from more sustainable materials instead. Single-use drinks containers made with plastic will only be allowed on the market if their caps and lids remain attached

  • Consumption reduction targets: Member States will have to reduce the use of plastic food containers and drinks cups. They can do so by setting national reduction targets, making alternative products available at the point of sale, or ensuring that single-use plastic products cannot be provided free of charge

  • Obligations for producers: Producers will help cover the costs of waste management and clean-up, as well as awareness raising measures for food containers, packets and wrappers (such as for crisps and sweets), drinks containers and cups, tobacco products with filters (such as cigarette butts), wet wipes, balloons, and lightweight plastic bags. The industry will also be given incentives to develop less polluting alternatives for these products

  • Collection targets: Member States will be obliged to collect 90% of single-use plastic drinks bottles by 2025, for example through deposit refund schemes

  • Labelling Requirements: Certain products will require a clear and standardized labelling which indicates how waste should be disposed, the negative environmental impact of the product, and the presence of plastics in the products. This will apply to sanitary towels, wet wipes and balloons;

  • Awareness-raising measures: Member States will be obliged to raise consumers' awareness about the negative impact of littering of single-use plastics and fishing gear as well as about the available re-use systems and waste management options for all these products.

For fishing gear, which accounts for 27% of all beach litter, the Commission aims to complete the existing policy framework with producer responsibility schemes for fishing gear containing plastic.

The EC proposals have to go to the European Parliament and Council for adoption, which is planned before elections in May 2019.

This year is also featured with many public campaigns aimed at raising awareness about plastic waste problem. For example, “Beat the Plastic Pollution” was the theme for the UN’s 2018 World Environment Day celebration.

And the OneLessStraw campaign is still on, so take the pledge!



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