Dutch MEPs and campaign groups have welcomed Wednesday’s vote in the European parliament to ban plastic straws and throwaway cutlery and plates from 2021.
The new measures to tackle plastic in the ocean cover the 10 single-use plastic products most widely found on European shores as well as lost fishing gear. Together these two groups account for 70% of marine litter, according to EU figures.
Just 9% of plastic waste is currently recycled and in the Netherlands alone, 900 million plastic bottles are thrown away, the AD said.
‘The time has come to put a stop to the plastic soup and rubbish in our seas and on our streets,’ Christian Democrat MEP Annie Schreier-Pierik, who was involved in drawing up the draft legislation, said. ‘Plastic is used for a couple of seconds but it takes several centuries for it to be broken down.’
‘Good news for the climate,’ said MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld, who leads the Liberal democratic party D66 in Europe. In total, 571 MEPS voted for the proposal, with 53 against and 34 abstaining. The measure still has to be approved by EU environment ministers.
The plan also envisages measures to reduce plastic food packaging and the use of disposable cups. Sweet and cigarette filter makers will have to pay collectively towards cleaning up their waste and plastic processing.
MEPs also say that nine in 10 plastic bottles should be collected separately by 2025, and a deposit system could be useful to achieve this. In the Netherlands, 328 out of 380 municipalities have joined a campaign by the Statiegeld Alliantie to extend the deposit system that currently applies to small glass bottles to plastic.
The cabinet, however, has said it has no plans to change the deposit system before 2021 and wants to see if the drinks industry can come up with alternative solutions first.
In 2016, the EU said that member states had to take measures to reduce the use of plastic bags. The Netherlands introduced a ban on shops and market stall holders giving their customers free plastic bags unless it was essential for food hygiene.
Environmental groups have also welcomed the EU parliament’s decision to ban throwaway plastic items. ‘Great news,’ said the Urgenda clean air campaign group.
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