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  • Plastic bags wash up on Vietnam's shores. June 2018.

    Plastic bags wash up on Vietnam's shores. June 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 20 December 2018
Opinion

The EU Commission released a statement saying they have reached a provisional agreement to ban 10 plastic products in a move to protect the environment.

The European Union is coming one step closer to permanently banning 10 throw-away plastic products after reaching a provisional agreement to reduce use or eliminate plastic products to protect the environment and citizens by “tackling marine litter at its source.”

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In a statement released Wednesday EU officials say they are working towards a permanent ban of single-use plastics, including cutlery, plates, straws, and styrofoam containers and cups.

Worldwide, these products contribute to killing as many as 11 million marine mammals per year according to One Green Planet. Marine life regularly ingests plastics or are injured and trapped by them.

The 10 products are some of the most common to wash up on European shores.

The EU is looking to ban most single-use plastic products. In the case of food containers and cups, they seek to limit their use.

The proposal, which still has to be approved by the EU parliament and council calls for plastic bottles to be made with at least 30 percent recycled content by 2030.

Meadhbh Bolger of Friends of the Earth, Europe says the measure is a first step but doesn’t go far enough.

"There is a lack of reduction targets for some single-use plastics. But overall it's a real step forward in tackling plastic pollution," the activist said.

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In a statement, the European Union hailed the agreement as "the world's first comprehensive plastics strategy," saying Europe's businesses and consumers will be "tackling a problem with global implications."

European manufacturers and sellers will have to include warnings on wet wipes and tobacco packaging, for example, that these products contain plastic that can potentially harm the environment. Cigarette butts are the second most littered item on Europe's beaches.

If the law is passed, manufacturers will also have to help cover clean up costs.

The EU commission introduced the proposal last May. They expect that once in effect, it will reduce CO2 emissions by 3.4 million tons and help the EU's 28 member states to save over US$25 billion by 2030.

Belgian EU Parliament member Frederique Ries celebrated the bill, saying "Europe now has a legislative model to defend and promote at (an) international level, given the global nature of the issue of marine pollution involving plastics."

One Green Planet reports that sea turtles, seals, sea lions, and whales are the most harmed by plastics.

However, the major oceanic pollution problem isn’t consumer straws but fishing nets that make up 46 percent of the ‘Great Pacific garbage patch’ floating the seas and killing sea life, Mercy for Animals argued.

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