“Unprecedented” cuts to single-use plastics agreed by the EU

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Unprecedented cuts to single-use plastics agreed by the EUFriends of the Earth Malta (FoE Malta) has said in a statement, that while it welcomes the EU’s finalised new laws to reduce single-use plastics, there are reduction targets missing and collection targets delayed,

It added that after months of intense negotiations, the EU has agreed much-anticipated laws for “unprecedented cuts” to single-use plastics in the EU. “The agreed text is a significant step forward in tackling plastic pollution, but does not fully address the urgency of the plastics crisis.”

“Citizens across Europe want to see an end to our throwaway culture and politicians have taken the first step.” FoE added, “the time is ripe for Europe to transition away from single-use plastics to reusables.”

The eNGO went on to say that it supports the consumption reduction on food containers and beverage cups, but believes there is need to be “specific EU wide targets. Reduction targets should be established for the products listed as food containers and cups for beverages.”

FoE Malta has also warned that the authorities should not fall for bio-based or biodegradable plastics: “Avoid the substitution of single-use plastics by bio-based and/or biodegradable single-use plastics which are still detrimental to the environment, and ensure that if biodegradable plastics are used, they are accurately labelled to indicate to the consumer where they can be composted since most require an industrial composter and cannot be disposed of in the typical compost bin at homes and gardens.”

FoE Malta stated that for the last three decades it had been sounding the alarm bells that if waste reduction is not taken seriously “Malta will end up in a position to have to take unpalatable decisions about its waste management strategy.”

“We have now come to that stage where the situation is critical and tough policies and regulations need to be enacted especially when it comes to single use plastics,” it warned.

“The final measures adopted include: Bans on several single-use plastic items including plates, cutlery and expanded polystyrene food containers and beverage cups,” the eNGO said.

It also includes “ensuring manufacturers pay for waste management and clean-up of several single-use plastic items, including cigarette butts and fishing gear.”

FoE Malta argued that the agreement falls short of what is needed to fully tackle the plastics crisis in key areas including: “No binding EU-wide target to reduce the consumption of food containers and cups, and no obligation for EU countries to adopt targets. And a delay of four years on ensuring 90% of plastic bottles are collected separately – from 2025 to 2029.”

Tomorrow, December the 20th , national Environment Ministers are expected to sign off on the agreed Directive. FoE Malta said that Member States will then have two years to transpose it into national laws, which should come into force at the beginning of 2021 at the latest.

File photograph of plastic pollution in Victoria by Alain Salvary

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