The European Parliament has voted in favour of a blanket ban on single-use plastics in a bid to tackle the pollution menace that is causing significant damage to oceans.
The bill, which was introduced by the Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Frederique Ries, was passed by 571-53 votes.
The proposed ban will result in the elimination of plastic straws, cotton swabs, as well as disposable plastic plates and cutlery from the EU market from 2021. A total of 90% of plastic bottles will be recycled by 2025.
MEPs added some additional items to the list of banned plastics. These include products made of oxo-degradable plastics such as bags or packaging and fast-food containers made of expanded polystyrene.
Member states will also have to reduce the consumption of plastic products, which have no alternatives, by at least 25% by 2025.
The introduction and the passage of the bill come after the European Commission proposed a ban in May.
“It is essential in order to protect the marine environment and reduce the costs of environmental damage attributed to plastic pollution in Europe.”
Ries said: “We have adopted the most ambitious legislation against single-use plastics. 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 €22bn by 2030.”
Several countries and companies have been taking measures in response to growing calls from environmentalists and rising public support for stringent steps to curb plastic packaging waste.
Multinational giants from the consumer goods industry have pledged to ensure all plastic packaging to be either recyclable or compostable by 2025 through plastic reduction strategies.
Earlier this week, the UK Government launched a consultation on banning the distribution and sale of plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds.