The aim of the directive, which is part of the European Plastics Strategy, is to protect the environment and reduce marine litter by avoiding the emission of 3.4 million tonnes of CO2. However, it should be noted the importance of the economic benefits that the new regulation will bring: the directive may avoid environmental damages which would cost the equivalent of €22 billion ($24.9 billion) by 2030 and save consumers a projected €6.5 billion ($7.38 billion).
…The measures discussed are closely related to the latest estimates on marine litter, according to the European Commission, plastics make up 85% of beach litter, which is causing catastrophic consequences on the environment. The organization WWF has already pointed out the dramatic effects that the excessive use of plastics, poor management of waste and mass tourism are having in the Mediterranean Sea, the most visited sea in Europe.
…The new rules aim to stop the use of throwaway plastic products and packaging for which alternatives exist and is focused on the most frequently found items polluting European seas: plastic cutlery (forks, knives, spoons, and chopsticks), plastic plates, plastic straws, cotton bud sticks made of plastic, beverage and food containers made of expanded polystyrene (such as fast food and takeaway boxes), and products made from oxo-degradable plastic, which contributes to microplastic pollution. According to the European Commission, together these products constitute 70% of all marine litter items.
…The global production of plastics has not stopped to increase since 1960. According to the European Commission, in 2015 the global production reached 322 million tonnes and it is expected to double over the next 20 years. In Europe, around 25.8 million tonnes of plastic waste is generated every year and less than 30% of such waste is collected for recycling.