EU Council Bans Many Single-Use Plastics to Keep Beaches Clean

Plastic bottles and other plastics including a mop lie washed up on the north bank of the River Thames in London on Feb. 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

(CN) – Turning the screws on marine pollution and environmental health hazards, the Council of the European Union signed off on a plan to ban many single-use plastic items and set limits on potentially harmful contaminants in fertilizer products.

Working from a list of the most commonly found plastic waste on Europe’s beaches, the council agreed to ban single-use plastic food containers, wrappers and bottles, and fishing gear containing plastic. The legislation also urges member states to work with tobacco companies on alternatives to plastic cigarette filters, which the council said is the second biggest source of beach litter.

While the ban only applies to items for which there are cheap sustainable substitutions, EU lawmakers advised member states to set national targets to reduce consumption of plastics that cannot be easily replaced with green alternatives.

Tuesday’s vote is the final step in the road to ban the plastics, following the European Parliament’s approval this past October.

Also Monday, the council OK’d limits on many contaminants found in fertilizer products. Within three years, fertilizer products bearing the “CE” mark with have to meet certain standards including a limit on contaminants and labeling requirements.

“These new rules will ensure that only fertilizers that meet high quality and safety EU-wide requirements and standards can be sold freely across the EU,” Romanian economy minister Niculae Badalau said in a statement. “The contaminants in EU phosphate fertilizing products, such as cadmium, can potentially pose a risk to human, animal or plant health, to safety or to the environment and for this reason, the content of such contaminants was limited according to the new rules.

“The new rules will boost the production and use of phosphate fertilizers with low cadmium content and of organic fertilizers and will provide a greater choice to farmers oriented towards a more environment-friendly agriculture.”  

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