Plastic coffee cups to be banned by 2030: EU
Single-use plastics, including disposable coffee cups, straws and takeaway packaging, will be banned across the EU by 2030.
The European Commission is also looking to ban microplastics added to cosmetics and cleaning products as part of efforts to reduce the amount of plastic waste in oceans which threaten marine life and cause pollution.
Under the plans, all plastic packaging placed on the EU market will be recyclable by 2030, the consumption of single-use plastics will be reduced and the intentional use of microplastics will be restricted.
Alternative biodegradable packaging will have to be developed, which will be boosted by a €350m research fund.
Some 25 million tonnes of plastic waste is generated across Europe every year, but less than 30pc is collected for recycling. The bulk is landfilled or incinerated. Globally, plastics make up 85pc of beach litter, with between five and 13 million tonnes ending up in the ocean every year.
There are also growing concerns plastics are increasingly being found in food and drinking water. Last year, the Irish Independent and Orb Media revealed plastics were found in Irish drinking water supplies.
The Plastics Strategy also suggests a tax on single-use plastics may be introduced, subject to an assessment being completed. It also wants access to public drinking water sources to be improved, to reduce consumption of bottled water.
"If we don't change the way we produce and use plastics, there will be more plastics than fish in our oceans by 2050," said European Commission first vice-president Frans Timmermans, who is responsible for sustainable development. "We must stop plastics getting into our water, our food. The only long-term solution is to reduce plastic waste by recycling and reusing more."
The EU wants more than half of all plastic (55pc) to be recycled by 2030 and for member states to reduce the use of bags from 90 a year per person by 2019 to 40 by 2026. Members will also be obliged to monitor and reduce marine litter.
The strategy was welcomed by Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, who said the Government had to act in tandem and promote a move away from a "throwaway culture".
The party's Waste Reduction Bill aims to ban single-use plastics and introduce a refund scheme for plastic bottles and other containers. "The Government now needs to change tack and support our bill which is in tune with European policy," he said.