Skip to main content

Europe’s countdown on plastic straws, cups and cotton buds

Slowly but surely Europeans are saying goodbye to the throwaway culture, stepping up measures to meet EU guidelines on banning single-use plastics.

In a first step required of EU Member States, single-use cutlery, plates, stirring sticks, balloon holders, straws and cotton buds, as well as polystyrene cups and boxes, will no longer be in circulation by 3 July 2021. From 2029 there is a 90% collection target for plastic bottles and such bottles will have to contain at least 25% recycled content by 2025.

Sustainable policies also extend to tobacco manufacturers, who must cut the plastic in their cigarette filters. Fishing gear is another target, with producers of (for example) fishing nets having to pay for the cost of recovering materials lost at sea.

Germany leading the way?

Germans claim a leading role in setting a good example and take the ban seriously. With 20% of the rubbish collected in parks and other public spaces comprising single-use plastic, Germany is a big single use plastics consumer. ‘Many single-use plastic products are superfluous and non-sustainable use of resources,’ says environment minister Svenja Schulze.

In contrast, the UK has pushed back the date of when its single-use plastic ban will come into effect. It had been set to start in April but the government has delayed this by six months due to the coronavirus outbreak. Ironically, many producers and consumers are turning to single-use plastic cutlery and dishware as a ‘safer’ alternative during the global pandemic.

Experts speak out

According to Louise Edge, senior plastics campaigner at Greenpeace UK, such fears are unfounded. ‘Experts are telling us that when it comes to buying food and drinks, plastic packaging doesn’t offer any special protection – and reusable cups, bottles, and containers are perfectly safe to use, as long as they are washed properly and social distancing is observed,’ she says on the website of the Plastic Free World Conference & Expo.

Reusable dishware is safe if properly washed, so personal safety and environmental safety can go hand in hand, it is also being argued in an open letter from 100 scientists. 

The Plastic Free World Conference & Expo 2020 takes place on 9-10 November in Cologne, Germany.

Would you like to share any interesting developments or article ideas with us? Don't hesitate to contact us.

You might find this interesting too

EMR joins pledges to become eco champion
R&D solution: new hope for multi-layer materials

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe now and get a full year for just €136 (normal rate is €170) Subscribe
Share your shear stories and win a GoPro!

It’s safe to say that scrap shears are the pillars of the recycling industry. But which configurations are the future? Take part in our tech survey and get a shot at winning a cool GoPro camera!

Thousands of scrap shears are driving recycling businesses all over the world. When it comes to different types, an operator may opt for maximum tonnage or flexibility, such as a mobile set-up. An integrated baling system is also gaining popularity. Ultimately, there is no wrong or right shear; it comes down to how you’re going to use it.

Our survey is meant to map the wants and needs of today’s dynamic recycling industry. Voice your opinion here and, who knows, you may be able to capture your recycling facility in action in HD.