With the amount of harmful plastic litter in oceans and seas growing ever greater, the European Commission has proposed new EU-wide rules to target the 10 single-use plastic products most often found on Europe’s beaches and seas, as well as lost and abandoned fishing gear. Together, these constitute 70% of all marine litter items.
The new rules are proportionate and tailored to get the best results. This means different measures will be applied to different products. Where alternatives are readily available and affordable, single-use plastic products will be banned from the market. For products without straight-forward alternatives, the focus is on limiting their use though a national reduction in consumption, design and labelling requirements and waste management/clean-up obligations for producers.
The proposal is one of the deliverables of the European strategy for plastics in a circular economy, launched by the Juncker Commission in 2018. Together, the new rules will put Europe ahead of the curve on an issue with global implications.