Labour MEPs: UK must keep new 90% recycling target for plastic bottles after Brexit

The European Parliament today backed a new 90 per cent recycling target for plastic bottles by 2025, and bans on plastic straws and drink stirrers – targets the UK must maintain after Brexit, Labour MEPs warned.

Seb Dance MEP, Labour’s European Parliament spokesperson on environment, said:

“These new measures will slash the use of single-use plastics in the EU, and with more than 700,000 plastic bottles littered in the UK every day, it would be negligent if the UK does not maintain these new targets if we leave the EU.

“Many of these bottles end up in our oceans, while new sources of plastic leakage, such as microplastics, are on the rise, posing new potential threats to animal and human health.

“As a result of this new legislation to reduce the consumption of single-use plastics, the European Union will be the first in the world to adopt a blueprint to put an end to plastic litter, both on land and sea. This is in stark contrast to the Tory government and Michael Gove, whose department has published over 20 consultations since the last general election, but not a single piece of primary legislation to tackle plastic waste.

“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.”

Notes to Editors

1. The new measures adopted today on plastic waste reduction include:

• Reduction of consumption: EU countries will have to draw up national plans and targets to reduce the consumption and use of the most commonly found single use plastic items – including food containers, cups and tobacco filters – by at least 25 per cent by 2025.
• Restrictions (bans) on the marketing of: Cotton buds, straws (except those for medical use), cutlery, plates, drink stirrers, balloon sticks, very lightweight plastics carrier bags, polystyrene food and drink containers, and products made of oxo-degradable plastics (which contribute to micro-plastic pollution).
• Product design: EU countries may only place single-use plastic bottles on the market if they contain at least 35 per cent recycled content and their caps and lids (with a significant plastic part) remain attached to the container (except those intended for special medical purposes).
• Marking requirements: EU countries must ensure that the following information – safe disposal, the environmental impact of littering the product, and the presence of plastic in the product – is clearly marked on the label of the following products: sanitary towels and tampons, wet wipes, tobacco filters, cups, packets and wrappers.
• Producer responsibility schemes: EU countries shall ensure that producers of (plastic) food containers, food packets and wrappers, containers and cups for beverages, tobacco filters, wet wipes, balloons, lightweight plastic bags, and fishing gear cover the costs of collecting waste consisting of such products and its subsequent transport and treatment, including waste removal costs and costs of awareness measures.
• Separate collection: EU countries shall take measures (e.g. deposit-refund schemes) for the separate collection of at least 90 per cent of single-use plastic bottles placed on the market by 2025.
• Awareness-raising measures: EU countries shall also take measures to communicate the following information to consumers of all single-use plastic products covered under the directive: the availability of reuse systems and waste management options, and the impact on the environment of abandonment or other improper disposal.