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Europe Is Banning Single-Use Plastics To Protect Oceans

The European Parliament has voted overwhelmingly in favour of banning single-use plastic, like cutlery, plates and straws.

Legislators voted in Strasbourg on Wednesday, targeting the top 10 disposable plastic products that wreak havoc on seas and pollute beaches.

Throwaway items like single-use straws, forks, knives and cotton buds will be prohibited when the new measures enter effect in 2021.

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Other wasteful items including plastic plates, balloon sticks and food and beverage containers will also be banned.

IMAGE: Getty

Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, said the decision was "an important step to reduce littering and plastic pollution in our oceans and seas."

"We got this, we can do this. Europe is setting new and ambitious standards, paving the way for the rest of the world," Timmermans said.

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The measures enforced will depend on each individual country within the EU.  But regardless of their methods, EU countries will be required to collect and recycle at least 90 percent of beverage bottles by 2029.

Photo: Getty Images

The European Parliament said tobacco companies will be made to pay for the public collection of cigarette butts under the new legislation.

Currently, the EU recycles just a quarter of the 25 million tonnes of plastics waste it produces every year. More than 80 per cent of marine litter is plastic.