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The European Commission has proposed a ban on 10 plastic items that make up around 70 percent of all litter found in Europe’s waters and on the beaches. The popular, but dangerous, plastic items include straws, cutlery, plates, cotton buds, drink stirrers, and sticks for balloons. The new legislation also wants to make plastic producers bear the expense of waste management and cleanup efforts.

The draft rules were unveiled on May 28, 2018, but they still need the approval of all EU member states and the European Parliament, CNN Money reports. It could take three or four years for the bans to finally come into force.

“The new rules are proportionate and tailored to get the best results. This means different measures will be applied to different products,” the European Commission said in a press release. “Where alternatives are readily available and affordable, single-use plastic products will be banned from the market. For products without straight-forward alternatives, the focus is on limiting their use through a national reduction in consumption; design and labeling requirements and waste management/clean-up obligations for producers. Together, the new rules will put Europe ahead of the curve on an issue with global implications.”

While some of the top single-use plastic items would be banned under the new regulations, others would fall under the “consumption reduction” category, like food containers and drink cups.

Apart from introducing the ban and making plastic producers responsible financially, the regulation proposes that EU states must collect 90 percent of disposable plastic bottles by 2025 through new recycling programs. It requires certain products to have a clear and standardized labeling indicating how waste should be disposed of, the negative environmental impact of the products, and the presence of plastics. It also obliges member states to raise consumers’ awareness about the issue of littering of single-use plastics and fishing gear, as well as about the reuse systems and waste management options available.

According to the European Commission’s estimates, once they are fully implemented in 2030, the rules could cost businesses over $3.5 billion – but also save consumers about $7.6 billion per year, create 30,000 jobs, avoid $25.6 billion in environmental damage and cleanup costs, and evade the emission of 3.4 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent!

It is estimated that by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean. The fact that plastic Pollution is being acknowledged politically and met with serious action is fantastic news that brings much hope. We can all help make a difference by limiting our own use of disposable plastics – to find out how, check out One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign!

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