The End of Disposable Plastic

EU Parliament Votes to Ban Single-Use Plastics by 2021

The use of plastic is without question quite convenient. Plastic is a very customizable material as well as being light, resilient and made-to-last. It is therefore not surprising that plastic is widely used around the world. But the material also has its down sides: The fact that more plastic is produced than can be properly disposed of leads to extensive environmental damage.

Every year more than 26 million tonnes of plastic waste are produced in the European Union. Less than a third of it is recycled. So what happens to the remaining plastic waste? Some ends up in landfill, some is burned. But a large part of it ends up in nature, leading to the destruction of the habitat of many species. In addition, toxic ingredients threaten the health of humans and animals.

The so-called plastic crisis is aggravated by the fact that we use more plastic than it is necessary. Environmentalists have long been calling for politicians to put a stop to plastic. In 2016, the EU took steps to ban the free distribution of some plastic bags. The European Union has now decided to ban disposable products such as plastic straws or plastic cotton swabs if there are alternatives. This means that by 2021 any disposable plastic should have disappeared from the European market. In addition, further restrictions concerning plastic bottles were decided. From 2024, plastic beverage containers may only be distributed if the caps or lids are attached to the container. Member states must adopt appropriate measures. However, there is still no binding target from the European Union. Only the "big goal" was defined: to noticeably reduce the consumption of disposable products for which there is no sustainable alternative.