After much debate, the European Union formally adopted its single-use plastic directive on 21 May, with 3 key areas of action mandated:
• 2021 ban on single-use plastic balloon sticks, cotton buds, cutlery, plates and straws
• plastic bottle collection of 77% by 2025 and 90% by 2029
• PET bottle and cap recycled content of 25% by 2025 and 30% by 2030 for sizes up to 3 litres.
Many industry groups and individual companies have already made pledges about collection and recycled content, but these targets will require concerted effort and investment.
It’s unfortunate that PET bottles are included as a single-use item, when they can be re-used as well as fully and repeatedly recycled.
Nevertheless, the European Council’s argument is powerfully put. “Beverage bottles that are single-use plastic products are one of the marine litter items that are found most on beaches … This is due to ineffective separate collection systems and low participation in those systems by consumers.”