Czech lawmakers approved legislation Monday (25 January) banning disposable plastic products such as straws, cutlery, plastic plates, and plastic cotton swabs that are polluting the world’s oceans.
The move brings the Czech Republic in line with its European commitments after the EU last year agreed to place tough new restrictions on certain plastic items.
The ban should apply to selected disposable plastic products, including those made of bioplastic as well as all oxo-degradable plastic products.
According to the EU Commission, the products prohibited under the law represent 70% of the waste that pours into oceans, posing a threat to wildlife and fisheries.
“Oxo-degradable plastics have proven to be a dead end as their microparticles enter the food chain. It is not yet clear what effect this can have on human health,” says Minister of the Environment Richard Brabec.
According to the ministry’s estimates, approximately 300 million plastic straws, 20 million plates, 60 million cutlery, 40 million food containers, and 40 million polystyrene cups are sold annually in the Czech Republic.
Moreover, starting on 3 July 2024, certain beverage containers that have lids and caps made of plastic are only allowed to be placed on the market if the former remain attached to the container.
At the same time, EU Member States previously agreed that by 2025, plastic bottles should be made of 25% recycled content, and by 2029 90% of them should be recycled.
The EU is also tackling the scourge of wet wipes that help to clog sewers in the form of “fatbergs”. Wet wipes, sanitary towels, tobacco filters and cups will be labeled if they are made with plastic. Packaging will warn consumers of environmental damage they do by disposing of these items incorrectly.
Every year, Europeans generate 25m tonnes of plastic waste, but less than 30% is collected for recycling. More than 80% of marine litter is plastic.