We’ve all seen the damage that plastics are doing on marine life. We’ve known for years that marine animals and fish are consuming microplastics and in many instances are dying because of it. We now know that those pieces of microplastic are continuing up the food chain and being consumed by humans!

Today, the EU has voted 571-53 in favour of banning single-use plastics across EU Member States. The EU directive would ban plastic straws, cotton swabs, and disposable plastic plates and cutlery by 2021 and aim for plastic bottles to have a 90% recycled rate by 2025. It’s a very ambitious goal, but given the seriousness of the plastic problems on our land and in our oceans, its the radical move needed to make a serious change.

After the vote in Parliament, a second vote will soon take place in the European Council before the directive becomes law – hopefully before the end of the year. Each Member State then has the choice to write it into national law – which given the margin of those in favour appears to be very likely.

How will Brexit affect that this ruling in the UK?

“Unless the UK mirrors EU action on plastics after Brexit, the Tories risk turning the UK into a dumping ground for cheap, non-recyclable plastics.”

– Seb Dance, Labour Environment Spokesperson in European Parliament

There are just months before the UK officially leaves the UK in March 2019. According to Theresa May, a Leave Bill is 95% done, although everyone but her seems to be in the dark about just what has been completed. There has been no word on what legislation the UK would carry over from the EU so it’s anybody’s guess on whether this ruling would continue to be in effect after Brexit.

Labour MEPs who voted in European Parliament today argued that the UK should recognise this ruling by the EU given the global issue of plastics and their effect on the environment. The Labour environment spokesperson in European Parliament, Seb Dance, stated that “the new measures will slash the use of single-use plastics in the EU.”

Dance also went on to say that “unless the UK mirrors EU action on plastics after Brexit, the Tories risk turning the UK into a dumping ground for cheap, non-recyclable plastics”. And he’s not wrong; the EU is doing dramatically more than the UK is to tackle single-use plastics and there is a strong likelihood of single-use plastics flooding the UK market if there’s nowhere for them to be sold in mainland Europe.

There haven’t yet been many positives coming out of the Brexit negotiations, if any at all, but hopefully this could be one.


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