A plan to ban single-use plastic products such as disposable plates and straws has been agreed. EU member states and the EU parliament still have to give the provisional agreement the go-ahead.
European lawmakers have reached an agreement on a ban of single-use plastic products, the Austrian presidency said in Brussels on Wednesday.
The move is aimed at making the EU a world leader in using sustainable alternatives that avoid marine pollution.
What does the plan involve?
There will be a plastic ban on products where alternatives are readily available and affordable, including plastic bags, plastic cotton swabs, cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers and sticks for balloons.
In a statement on Wednesday, the European agreement hailed the agreement as "the world's first comprehensive plastics strategy," saying Europe's businesses and consumers will be "tackling a problem with global implications."
"We have taken a big stride towards reducing the amount of single-use plastic items in our economy, our ocean and ultimately our bodies," Karmenu Vella, the EU's commissioner for environment, maritime affairs and fisheries, said as part of the statement.
"When we have a situation where one year you can bring your fish home in a plastic bag, and the next year you are bringing that bag home in a fish, we have to work hard and work fast."
Reducing sea waste: The commission proposed the EU-wide rules in May, arguing at the time that 80 percent of sea waste is plastic. The proposals were meant to "target the top 10 single-use plastic products most often found on Europe's beaches and seas." It also found that just under a third of plastic waste collected and recycled, and most of the remaining waste ends up in seas and oceans.
Threat to the environment: Because of their slow decomposition rate, plastics are a particular problem for the world's oceans. Traces amount of plastic can be found in species such as whales, turtles, and birds, as well as seafood that ends up in the human food chain.
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