To protect the oceans, plastic plates, thin plastic bags, straws and other plastic disposable products are to be banned according to the will of the European Parliament. MEPs voted in Strasbourg on Wednesday with a large majority for a corresponding draft directive. In it, the parliamentarians also demand that the member states have to reduce the consumption of certain other single-use products such as plastic cups by a quarter by 2025 – for example through price increases or advertising for alternatives.
Now that Parliament has found a common line, a compromise has to be found with the Member States. If an agreement is reached in the coming year, as planned, the states would have to implement the new rules by 2021. In May, she presented a proposal to contain plastic waste. The MEPs have now partially tightened these ideas – for example with the binding reduction targets and with a longer list of banned plastic products. .
The aim of the EU initiative is to curb the plastic mass in the seas. According to the EU Parliament, plastic makes up three quarters of the world’s garbage in the oceans. In the EU, discarded single-use plastic products make up around half of the rubbish found on beaches. Well over 100 million tons of plastic waste are already contaminating the world’s oceans – and an estimated 10 million tons are added every year. Many plastic particles come from ships and fishing or get into the sea via municipal sewage – such as microplastics from clothing or cosmetic products. Current and wind ensure global distribution. One of the biggest problems: it takes several hundred years for the plastics to decompose. Toxins get into the marine environment.
For many sea creatures, plastic waste is an immediate threat: They get tangled in illegally disposed of fishing nets or longlines and die in agony. Tortoises mistake plastic bags for jellyfish, their natural food, and suffocate. Sea birds devour toothbrushes or toys and starve to death on a full stomach or die from internal injuries.
If the garbage disintegrates into microscopic particles over time, there is further danger. Because they bind pollutants on their surface and transport them into the food chain – ultimately with consequences for people who ingest the poison by eating fish and seafood.