The EU has agreed tough new measures on single-use plastics, imposing a ban on straws, cutlery, cotton buds, and plastic cups and food containers made out of expanded polystyrene. The new Single Use Plastics Directive will also force tobacco producers to pay for the collection of cigarette butts and introduce collection targets for drinks bottles along with a requirement to redesign drinks caps to tether them to bottles. The Directive also includes a Green proposal for a complete ban on oxo-degradable plastic, which is often labelled as biodegradable but in reality fragments into microplastics.
Yesterday the UK government also unveiled its own strategy to tackle plastic waste, laying out plans to simplify household recycling, make retailers and packaging manufacturers pay for collection and recycling and end food waste. However, critics of the UK’s plans point to concerns over voluntary action and distant targets. They also fear that a consultation with manufacturers and retailers could result in the plans being watered down.
“The starting gun has been fired in a race to the top on single use plastics. It’s clear the EU are out in front while the UK is being weighed down by further consultation, held back by industry lobbyists, and staggering towards a way too distant finishing line. The EU is prepared to make tracks now and get tough on manufacturers and retailers through outright bans on a range of single use plastics and setting tight targets. This is a great early Christmas present for the planet.
“Michael Gove’s rhetoric about how the UK can outperform the EU on a green agenda has suffered another setback. It is clear that the best way to tackle global problems like pollution and waste that know no borders is to tackle them collectively, which is why the EU is winning the race to the top on plastic.”