We have known for a while that the plastic pollution wrecking our planet is overwhelmingly due to our addiction to single-use plastics, so it’s about time measures are taken to curb the issue. On Wednesday, March 27, the European Parliament voted by 560 to 35 to ban 10 single-use plastic items, taking effect in 2021.
The rule targets some of the most common plastic products that show up on European shores, including straws, forks, knives, cotton buds, plates, balloon sticks, and food and beverage containers.
The measure does not only target plastic pollution. Cigarette butt litter will also be tackled by making tobacco companies cover the cost of collection. Cigarette filters leach toxins when wet (including nicotine, benzene, and cadmium), and are mostly made of cellulose acetate, a form of plastic which takes decades to degrade.
The new measure was largely motivated by the growing concerns over plastic pollution in oceans around the world, especially in conjunction with stories of whales found dead with plastic in their stomachs and other marine wildlife suffering from our garbage problem. According to Aljazeera, of the 25 million tonnes of plastic waste produced by the EU each year, only a quarter of it is recycled.