EU passes plastics law

EU member states will have to achieve a 90% collection target for plastic bottles by 2029 after MEPs voted in favour of a new directive.

On 27 March, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to approve a series of measures proposed by the European Commission to tackle marine litter coming from the 10 single-use plastic products most often found on European beaches.

The Single-Use Plastics Directive includes a ban on selected single-use products made of plastic for which alternatives exist on the market with a deadline of 2021. The list includes cutlery, plates, straws and stirrers, as well as cups, food and beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene (EPS) and all products made of oxo-degradable plastic.

Packaging industry representatives, however, claim the ban on EPS will damage independent takeaways and mobile caterers.

The directive will see the introduction of design requirements to connect bottle caps to plastic bottles, as well as a target to incorporate 25% of recycled plastic in PET bottles from 2025 and 30% in all plastic bottles as from 2030.

Extended producer responsibility schemes covering the cost to clean-up litter will be applied to products such as tobacco filters and fishing gear.

The directive also sets out awareness raising measures to achieve an “ambitious and sustained reduction” in the consumption of single-use drinks cups, fast-food containers and packaging used for meals designed for immediate consumption.

In the UK, ministers are supportive of the ambitions of the directive, however the UK’s obligations to enforce it will depend on the future relationship with the EU.

The new rules are part of the EU Plastics Strategy which has the objective of having all plastic packaging placed on the EU market as reusable or recyclable by 2030.

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