EU MEPs vote against plastic is ‘huge step forward’

Cotton buds are one of the single-use plastic items that will be banned by the directive

The European Parliament has successfully voted in a directive that will ban the use of single-use plastic by 2021, in a move that has been dubbed “an absolutely enormous step forward”.

The directive to ban the use of single-use items such as cotton buds, straws, and disposable cutlery, came this week as part of a move to help clean up the world’s oceans.

The directive was passed by 571-53.

It aims to ban all single-use plastic items by 2021, and ensure all plastic bottles are recycled by 2025.

The European Commission described the directive as a doubling down on "the top 10 plastic products that most often end up in the ocean".

The plan has been dubbed “extremely ambitious” and campaigners are hopeful that it will make a difference, especially in France.

The directive will still be subject to a vote, but this is expected to take place successfully before the end of the year.

Anne Gril, manager of waste at environmental association World CleanUp Day - France, which has lobbied for anti-plastic legislation, said: “This is an absolutely enormous step that has been taken. 80% of the waste that is found in oceans comes from land, which is why it is so important to reduce waste at its source, and especially to avoid single-use plastic.”

She added: “France is a bit ahead [of other countries] on this issue.”

MEPs also said that Britain should agree to honour the agreement even after Brexit.

Ms Gril said that she feels confident that “the MEPs who supported this measure will continue to develop legislation in a positive way”.

She said: “Even though the text has been largely amended, it is extremely ambitious, and will allow us to fight this plastic pollution at the source.”

Manufacturers and industry are also likely to support the move, and consumers’ rising awareness of the issue, she said, because “it is in their interest”.

She said: “A manufacturer sells as long as clients buy. If the consumer starts to prefer to buy recyclable or biodegradable materials, then manufacturers will follow by default."

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