Plastics are everywhere in our daily life: they are used in packaging, buildings, cars, electronics, agriculture and other sectors. On 3 July 2021, the EU ban on disposable plastics comes into effect. This will concern straws, cups, cutlery, plates, but also balloon rods.
Single-use plastic products are used once, or for a short period of time, before being thrown away. The impacts of this plastic waste on the environment and our health are global and can be drastic. Single-use plastic products are more likely to end up in our seas than reusable options.
The 10 most commonly found single-use plastic items on European beaches, alongside fishing gear, represent 70% of all marine litter in the EU. According to the directive on single-use plastics where sustainable alternatives are easily available and affordable, single-use plastic products cannot be placed on the markets of EU Member States. This applies to cotton bud sticks, cutlery, plates, straws, stirrers, and sticks for balloons.
It will also apply to cups, food and beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene, and on all products made of oxo-degradable plastic. The EU aims to become a forerunner in the global fight against marine litter and plastic pollution. EU rules aim to reduce the volume and impact of certain plastic products on environment.
Plastics production is 20 times higher than in 1960s, and is forecast to almost quadruple by 2050. Although there are thousands of types of plastics, 90% of plastics are derived from virgin fossil fuels. About 6% of global oil consumption is used to produce plastics; by 2050, this share could reach 20%. In Europe, about 40% of post-consumer plastic waste is incinerated with energy recovery, and the rest is either landfilled or recycled. About half of the plastic waste collected and recycled is treated in the European Union; the other half is exported, mainly to China.