The European Parliament today voted to ban a whole range of plastic products which are polluting land, rivers and seas. The report voted on by a majority of MEPs proposes banning straws, plates, cutlery, and balloon sticks; stringent reduction targets for other plastics and introduces producer responsibility on food containers, tobacco products and wet wipes.
The Parliament also agreed to a Green proposal to include a ban on oxo-plastic, which is often marketed as biodegradable, but in reality fragments and turns into microplastic. A recent report has identified for the first time that microplastics have been found in human stools and may be passing through the bodies of around 50% of the global population.
Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West, said:
"This decision is a victory for the health of the planet. Plastic waste is a truly global problem, touching every corner of the planet. Shocking images of the scale of the problem and how plastic is flooding our oceans and destroying wildlife has helped push this issue up the political agenda.
“Today’s vote is a sign that there is a global race to the top on addressing plastic pollution, and the EU has demonstrated it wants to be one of the front-runners.
In the run-up to the vote, the UK government announced a more limited consultation on "banning the distribution and/or sale of plastic straws, stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds".
Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East and a member of the European Parliament's Environment Committee, said:
"Single-use plastics are choking our marine environments and, as new research finds, polluting our bodies. It is vital, therefore, that so many MEPs have joined the Greens today in voting for strong proposals to ban some of the most toxic offenders.
"The proposals aren't a panacea, of course; there is much more to be done. The UK government has a recent history of claiming EU progress as their own. Rather than trying to take undeserved credit on this, I'm calling on Ministers to use EU action as a starting point for even tougher domestic measures. A race to the top on tackling plastic pollution would be welcome."
The European Parliament will now take the text agreed today to ‘trilogue’ negotiations which begin on the 6th of November with the European Commission and Council, on the Single Use Plastic Directive.
Molly Scott Cato concluded:
“Ultimately, this is not just a problem about plastic: it is generated by mass consumerism, mass disposability and an economic system that seeks endless growth. The solutions are structural and political and involve taking on the commercial interests profiting from single-use plastic.”