Namely, the agreement focuses on the single-use plastics proposal presented in May by the Commission as part of the world's first comprehensive Plastics Strategy which aims to protect citizens and the environment from plastic pollution whilst fostering growth and innovation.

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The EU directive on Single-Use Plastics will be, according to the European Commission, the most ambitious legal instrument at global level addressing marine litter. It envisages different measures to apply to different product categories.

When the alternatives are available and affordable, single-use plastic products will be easily banned from markets, such as plastic cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers, sticks for balloons, etc.

The agreement contributes to efforts on making Europe into a more sustainable, circular economy. In the past, the European Parliament has suggested ways to boost plastics recycling.

The efforts, also aim to place Europe's businesses and consumers ahead as a world leader in producing and using sustainable alternatives that avoid marine litter and oceans pollution, tackling a problem with global implications, that's why during May Europe proposed several rules to reduce marine litter.

Moreover, Frans Timmermans, first Vice-President responsible for sustainable development addressed that this agreement helps protect the people and the planet. Equally important is, that with the solutions agreed upon today, we are also driving a new circular business model and showing the way forward to putting our economy on a more sustainable path.

The agreement that was reached on December 19, has to be formally accepted by the European Parliament and the Council. When approved, the new Directive will be published in the EU's Official Journal and the Member States will have to transpose it after two years.

Finally, the proposed Directive is similar to the 2015 Plastic Bags directive which was successful. The new measures are expected to bring economic and environmental benefits, as:

  • avoid environmental damages which would cost the equivalent of €22 billion by 2030;
  • avoid the emission of 3.4 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent;
  • save consumers a projected €6.5 billion.