(CN) – The European Parliament on Thursday voted to ban many single-use plastic items, targeting what the administrative arm of the EU says are the 10 products most likely to end up as litter in oceans.
Acting on a proposal by the European Commission, lawmakers voted to ban outright plastic items for which there is an available and cheap sustainable option – drinking straws, plastic cutlery and cotton bud sticks. Items less easy to replace with a green option will be the subject of consumer awareness programs to encourage reduced use and recycling, and extended responsibility for producers of the products.
Together, the 10 products targeted by the law make up 70 percent of the trash in the world’s oceans, the commission said.
"Today we are one step closer to eliminating the most problematic single use plastic products in Europe. The commission has promised to be big on big things – and plastic pollution and marine litter are among the biggest challenges of our times. That is why we invested in a legislative proposal to reduce single use plastic items and abandoned fishing gear,” environment and maritime commissioner Karmenu Vella said in a statement.
“I warmly welcome today's vote by the European Parliament. It sends a clear signal that Europe is ready to take decisive, coordinated action to curb plastic waste and to lead international efforts to make our oceans plastic-free.”
The initiative passed the parliament 571-53. The European Council must sign off on the measure and will take its vote in November.
Meanwhile, The Guardian reported members of Britain’s Labour Party demanded lawmakers there adopt the initiative post-Brexit, which will be finalized March 2019.