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European Parliament votes to ban plastic straws, knives, forks, Q-tips by 2021


Overwhelming vote

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European Union lawmakers voted Wednesday to ban single-use plastic items such as straws, dinnerware, Q-tips, and more to crack down on plastic waste.

The waste reportedly has been accumulating rapidly on beaches and in oceans.

What are the details?

The European Parliament voted 560 to 35 to ban 10 single-use plastics by 2021 in all EU states, Reuters reported.

The newly passed bill will also encourage plastics manufacturers to make their plastics more easily recyclable.

The 28 countries in the European Union will be permitted to use their own methods of reducing the use of such plastics and will be mandated to recycle at least 90 percent of plastic beverage bottles by 2029.

"Europe is setting new and ambitious standards, paving the way for the rest of the world," European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said.

According to Reuters, 85 percent of the trash found in oceans and on beaches is plastic.

What else?

In 2018, Great Britain Prime Minister Theresa May announced a "national plan of action." The new initiative would prohibit the use and manufacture of single-use plastics entirely by 2042.

May said, "Plastic waste is one of the greatest environment challenges facing the world, which is why protecting the marine environment is central to our agenda. ... We are rallying Commonwealth countries to join the fight against marine plastic."

May added that the government plans to "work with industry to develop alternatives and ensure there is sufficient time to adapt."

Scotland also announced last year its plan to ban plastic straws by the end of 2019, and it even caught on in the United States.

A 2018 California bill would prohibit restaurant staff from handing out single-use plastic straws to customers unless the customers specifically asked. Servers could be hit with a fine of up to $1,000 if they did not adhere to the rule. The bill passed into law in September.

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