Producers could simply market items like throwaway plastic cups as reusable, under changes to a draft EU ban on single-use plastic tabled today in the European Parliament, the Rethink Plastic alliance of NGOs has warned.
The European Parliament’s environment committee voted on a proposal that would introduce bans on certain single-use plastic products responsible for marine pollution, and require European governments to set reduction targets for others.
Campaigners are concerned that the committee’s proposed definition of ‘single-use’ plastic items is too narrow, so would not prevent producers from avoiding bans, and would allow them to ignore reduction targets and bans. 
Speaking on behalf of the Rethink Plastic alliance , Greenpeace EU chemicals policy director Kevin Stairs said:
“This loophole is a serious oversight by the Parliament and goes against common sense. Everyone knows a throwaway plastic cup or straw when they see one – producers simply marketing them as reusable won’t stop pollution of our rivers and oceans. A turtle choked on relabelled plastic is still a dead turtle.”
Rethink Plastic members fear that, as a result of intense lobbying activities from the industry, the ambition of the single-use plastics proposal may be watered down by the multiplication of unjustified exemptions, for packaging or biodegradable products in particular. MEPs have also backed off from an opportunity to be setting EU wide consumption reduction requirements for food containers and cups.
On a more positive note, the environment committee added very lightweight plastic bags, polystyrene food and drink containers, and products made of ‘oxo-degradable’ plastic  to the list of banned items originally proposed by the European Commission. The proposed rules would also require plastic bottles to be made with 35% recycled plastic and introduce collection and recycling targets for fishing gear, which is the main responsible item for marine pollution.
The European Parliament will vote in plenary in the week of 22 October on the environment committee’s proposals.
The global movement Break Free From Plastic published yesterday the results of 239 clean-ups and brand audits in 42 countries on six continents, revealing the extent of plastic pollution. The companies responsible for the most plastic pollution were Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé. Full details at bit.ly/brandauditreport2018
 The definition supported by the European Parliament’s environment committee concerns any plastic product “designed or placed on the market to be used only once over a short time span before it is discarded”.
 The European Environmental Bureau is a member organisation of the Rethink Plastic campaign, an alliance of leading European NGOs working to ensure a future that is free from plastic pollution.
 Oxo-degradable plastics are supposedly biodegradable plastics, which in reality break down into small fragments and contribute to harmful microplastic pollution in the oceans and other ecosystems.
See our reaction to the European Commission’s original proposal to reduce plastic pollution – known as the Plastics Strategy.
See our reaction to the European Commission’s proposal to reduce single-use plastics.
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