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Marine Science



EU ban on single use plastics will benefit marine environment – The Council of the EU recently adopted a directive which introduces new restrictions on certain single-use plastic products.

Marine litter is transboundary in nature and is recognised as a growing global problem. Reducing marine litter is a key action for the achievement of UN Sustainable Development Goal 14 which calls to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. 80 to 85 % of marine litter on European beaches, measured as beach litter counts, is plastic, with single-use plastic items representing 50 % and fishing-related items representing 27 % of the total. Single-use plastic products and fishing gear containing plastic are therefore considered a serious problem in the context of marine litter, posing a risk to marine ecosystems, to biodiversity and to human health and damage activities such as tourism, fisheries and shipping.

The single-use plastics directive builds on the EU’s existing waste legislation but goes further by setting stricter rules for those types of products and packaging which are among the top ten most frequently found items polluting European beaches.

The EU ban on single use plastics rules, ban the use of certain throwaway plastic products for which alternatives exist. In addition, specific measures are introduced to reduce the use of the most frequently littered plastic products.

Under the new rules, single-use plastic plates, cutlery, straws, balloon sticks and cotton buds will be banned by 2021. In addition, as plastic components of fishing gear have high recycling potential, Member States are expected to introduce extended producer responsibility for fishing gear and components of fishing gear containing plastic to ensure separate collection of waste fishing gear, in line with the polluter-pays principle, and also to finance environmentally sound waste management including the recycling of fishing gear.