European Union approves ban on single-use plastic

More than 80 percent of marine litter is plastic, according to the European Commission.

It’s almost a sin to buy a flat of plastic water bottles or accept a straw now in some places in the U.S. And now Europe has approved measures to completely ban some single-use plastic items by 2021.

European lawmakers on Thursday approved plans (571-53) that could rid of single-use plates, cutlery, fast food containers, bags, straws, and cotton swabs—some of the top 10 single-use plastic products that litter Europe’s beaches.

But first, the European Parliament must negotiate with the European Council. A decision is expected in December.

“We have adopted the most ambitious legislation against single-use plastics,” Belgian MEP Frédérique Ries said in a news release. “It is up to us now to stay the course in the upcoming negotiations with the Council, due to start as early as November. Today’s vote paves the way to a forthcoming and ambitious directive. It is essential in order to protect the marine environment and reduce the costs of environmental damage attributed to plastic pollution in Europe, estimated at 22 billion euros by 2030.”

The legislation also calls for a 25-percent reduction of single-use food boxes, fruit and vegetable containers, and ice cream tubs by 2025. Plus, lawmakers also seek to recycle 90 percent of recyclable drink bottles by 2025.

If anything, it’s a step closer toward solving the world’s plastic pollution problem.