3 July saw the coming into effect throughout the European Union of a ban on plastic straws, plastic bottles, coffee cups and takeaway containers made from certain materials. Items made from expanded polystyrene, specifically, can no longer be sold. The exact items included are 10 single-use plastics that are most commonly found thrown away on beaches. Expanded polystyrene is being targeted because it easily breaks down into tiny white plastic balls which are blown around by the wind and eaten by fish or birds who think it is food.
The new law, called the Single-Use Plastics (SUP) Directive, requires all 27 EU member states to enforce the new guidelines. Norway, despite not being an EU member, is also implementing the Directive as a member of the European Economic Area. The laws state that the aim is to prevent and reduce the impact of certain plastic products on the environment, in particular the aquatic environment, and on human health, as well as to promote the transition to a circular economy with innovative and sustainable business models, products and materials. The Directive will be transposed into national law and applied as of 3 July 2021. Any countries who don't respect these obligations will be fined. (from Euro News 5 July 2021)
What is the UK doing?
A spokesperson for Defra said alternative approaches to the Directive were under consideration to deliver “the same or better overall outcome” in the rest of the UK. But, they made no pledge to introduce a ban.