EU lawmakers back wide ban on disposable plastic products

The European Union parliament overwhelmingly voted Wednesday to impose a wide-ranging ban on single-use plastics to counter pollution from discarded items that end up in waterways and fields.

The European Parliament backed the ban in a 560-35 final vote on Wednesday. EU member states have given their support but need to vote on the measure for it to go into effect.

The ban would affect a range of plastic products for which reasonable alternatives exist, from straws to earbuds, starting in 2021.

Disposable utensils would not be completely off-limits, but the measure calls for them to be made of sustainable materials when possible. The approved legislation also sets a goal of having plastic bottles 90 percent recycled by 2025 and to cut litter from the 10 items that turn up in oceans most often in half.

The EU estimated the changes will cost the bloc's economy 259 million euros to 695 million euros a year ($291 million-$781 million.)

The proposals "will help us move on from single-use plastics and toward less consumption, the multiple use of better designed products, more innovation and a cleaner environment. The next step is to move away from our waste-based culture," said Margrete Auken, an EU lawmaker for the Greens/EFA group.

The European Parliament has said that plastics production is 20 times higher now than during the 1960s. China's decision to no longer import some of the EU's waste helped spur the plastics ban.