The European Council has today adopted a directive that introduces new restrictions on certain single-use plastic products.
The formal adoption of the new rules for a ban on throwaway plastic products, including straws, stirrers, cutlery, plates, balloon sticks and cotton buds – which account for more than 70% of marine litter – is the final step in the procedure.
It was previously backed by members of the European Parliament (MEPs).
In addition to the ban, which will come into effect from 2021, specific measures are introduced to reduce the use of the most frequently littered plastic products.
Member states have agreed to achieve a 90% collection target for plastic bottles by 2025 and plastic bottles to contain at least 25% of recycled content by 2025 and 30% by 2030.
They also agreed the reduction measures should cover waste from tobacco products, in particular cigarette filters containing plastic, which would have to be reduced by 50% by 2025 and 80% by 2030.
According to the European Parliament, one cigarette butt can pollute between 500 and 1,000 litres of water and thrown on the roads, it can take up to 12 to disintegrate – the second most littered single-use plastic items.
The measures are expected to avoid 3.4 million tonnes of carbon emissions, save €22 billion (£19bn) in environmental damages by 2030 and save consumers a projected €6.5 billion (£5.6bn).