The European Parliament yesterday backed a proposed directive to ban single use plastics by 571 votes to 53. The proposal suggests banning single use items like plastic straws, cotton buds, straws, drink stirrers, disposable plates and cutlery by 2021, while enforcing the recycling of 90% of plastic bottles by 2025.

The ban doesn't have legal force yet.  Member states still have to back the directive before it can become law, but with voting so overwhelmingly in favour, the new law could be in force before the start of 2019.

Here in the UK, similar measures are expected to be announced in Chancellor Philip Hammond's budget on Monday 29 October.  This comes after Labour MEPs have already said that the EU's plans on plastic must be respected by the UK after Brexit.

The European Parliament's environment commissioner, Karmenu Vella, said: “Today we are one step closer to eliminating the most problematic single use plastic products in Europe."

This is brilliant news for the seas around Europe, where around 150,000 tonnes of plastic end up each year.  But this is a tiny fraction of the estimated 8 million + tonnes of plastic dumped in the world's oceans each year.

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