EU Bans Single-Use Plastics

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The European Union parliament voted last week to ban single-use plastic cutlery, straws, cotton buds and plastic stirrers in a sweeping piece of legislation that is aiming to drastically reduce the amount of plastic refuse entering the waterways and ocean.

Included in the ban is polystyrene cups, the most affordable means of serving tea and coffee, which are notorious for breaking down into micro-plastics, which is presenting a new and severe threat to marine wildlife. The ban is set to come into force by 2021, according to the Guardian.

The EU has also voted to introduce pa mandate for plastic food containers, drink lids and bottles to be made from at least 25% recycled material by 2025 and 90% recycled materials by 2029.

"Today we have taken an important step to reduce littering and plastic pollution in our oceans and seas," said Frans Timmermans, vice president of the European Commission.

"We got this, we can do this. Europe is setting new and ambitious standards, paving the way for the rest of the world" he said.

560 members of the European parliament voted in favour of the agreement, with 28 abstentions, and 35-votes against the legislation. According to the Guardian's Jennifer Rankin, "every year, Europeans generate 25m tonnes of plastic waste, but less than 30% is collected for recycling. More than 80% of marine litter is plastic." According to United Nation's estimates, 800 species of animals are impacted by this marine debris.

There's also set to be some changes to the packaging of products like wet wipes, whereby the manufacturer will be forced, by law, to inform potential consumers just how detrimental the product is to the environment.

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