After the EU Parliament voted last week for tighter rules against plastic waste, the EU ambassadors and ambassadors of the Member States today agreed in Brussels on the common position of the European Council.
The negotiations on an EU-wide ban on disposable plastic products between the Council, Commission and Parliament will thus begin this year. A first round of talks between the Austrian Presidency and the European Parliament will take place on Tuesday.
To protect the environment and the seas, the EU Commission had presented a proposal for the containment of plastic waste. Disposable plastic products such as drinking straws, plastic utensils, cotton swabs and balloon holders are to be banned. Furthermore, the states should significantly reduce the consumption of plastic products, which are currently difficult to replace – for example in the food sector – in the coming years. Manufacturers of plastic products should in the future bear the costs for cleaning the environment.
New rules from 2021
In the latter point, the Council calls for a more ambitious approach: not only manufacturers but also companies selling or importing disposable plastic products should be asked to pay. On the other hand, the Commission proposal to collect cigarette butts, wet wipes and balloons separately is rejected as „impractical“. If the Council, the Parliament and the Commission reach an agreement as planned next year, the states must implement the measures by 2021.
Environment Minister Elisabeth Köstinger (ÖVP) described the agreement as „an important step to protect our environment“. Plastic waste pollutes rivers, beaches and oceans. „That’s why we ban plastic products for which there are already good alternatives. And we will have the plastic producers pay for cleaning, „says Köstinger.