Protecting resources and waters: eu considers banning plastic tableware

The EU Commission wants to propose banning tableware made of plastic. The German Environment Ministry thinks this is a good idea.

Bad for the environment and looks stupid, too: Disposable cups with plastic lids Photo: dpa

According to a media report, the EU Commission wants to propose a ban on disposable plastic tableware. A corresponding directive is to be presented on May 23, reported WirtschaftsWoche. This would be the first time the authority has taken concrete steps to implement its "plastic strategy" presented at the beginning of the year. However, the Commission did not want to confirm the report when asked by taz.

Plastic waste is a growing problem: Every year, EU countries produce 25.8 million tons of plastic waste, of which less than 30 percent is recycled so far. Up to 2 percent of Europe’s plastic waste also ends up in the sea, where huge quantities of non-degradable residues have now accumulated – a threat to marine wildlife.

"We would welcome such a plan in principle," a spokesman for the German Environment Ministry told the taz about possible plans to ban plastic tableware. He said there was a good chance that such a proposal would be supported by the EU Parliament and member states. To curb plastic waste, France, Britain and Ireland are already planning national bans on single-use plastic tableware. The Environment Ministry in Berlin commented that this problem must be regulated at the European level.

However, the effect of a possible ban is still unclear, as there are no reliable figures for the proportion of plastic tableware in total waste. Nevertheless, Kim Detloff, an expert on marine conservation at the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union, sees a ban on plastic tableware, which would hit fast-food vendors in particular, as a step in the right direction. "The disposable sector is symbolic of the fact that we need to be more careful with plastic as a resource," he told the taz.

Deutsche Umwelthilfe, on the other hand, is critical of the proposal. "Bans will not be implemented due to a lack of widespread acceptance," the head of the circular economy organization department, Thomas Fischer, told the AFP news agency on Wednesday. To curb plastic waste, he said, financial incentives for recyclable products would be better – including levies or an expansion of the deposit system.

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