The war on single-use plastic needed drastic action, MEP Roberta Metsola said on Friday, as she detailed why she pushed for an outright ban by 2021.

“This is a close deadline, but we cannot afford to waste any more time. Too much time has already been lost,” she said.

Dr Metsola was speaking at a public dialogue meeting organised by the European Parliament Office in Valletta.

Read: Join our war on single-use plastic.

Single-use plastic items such as plates, cutlery, straws, balloon sticks or cotton buds, will be banned in the EU under plans adopted last year.

These products, which make up over 70 per cent of marine litter, will be banned from the EU market in the next two years.

During this morning’s meeting, Dr Metsola called on the public to do their bit and “join the war on plastic”.

“Single-use plastics are clogging our seas, killing our marine life and causing irreparable damage to Malta and Gozo’s natural environment,” MEP Metsola said.

She hailed the EU wide-ban on single-use plastic products like non-biodegradable straws & polystyrene cups that will finally come into force by 2021, saying Malta and Gozo were being negatively impacted by plastic marine pollution.

Most of this, she said, was single-use, un-biodegradable, plastic that remained in the eco-systems for centuries, “harming public health, choking fish and throttling our turtles”.

“It simply cannot continue at the current rate. It is time for change – and it’s not only plastics, it’s our entire waste management system that needs updating and enforcing,” she said.

Aside from single-use plastics, MEPs have also moved to ban a number of other products from the EU market by 2021.

Products made of oxo-degradable plastics, such as bags or packaging and fast-food containers made of expanded polystyrene, are among those that will be phased out.

The consumption of several other items, for which no alternative exists, will have to be reduced by member states by least 25 per cent by 2025. This includes single-use burger boxes, sandwich boxes or food containers for fruits, vegetables, desserts or ice creams.

In order to comply with these new requirements Malta will have to draft national plans to encourage the use of products suitable for multiple use, as well as re-using and recycling.

Other plastics, such as beverage bottles, will have to be collected separately and recycled at a rate of 90 per cent by 2025.

“Imagine if instead of the usual plastic bags we still see everywhere, we use boxes or cloth; or if we stopped purchasing products covered in excessive, unnecessary, plastic packaging; or if instead of throwing away a coffee cup every time we have a hot drink we use re-usable asks; if instead of the usual plastic straws we give our children paper straws or ones made out of bamboo; if instead of plastic confetti during our festi we go back to using paper.”

“My point is that miniscule – almost unnoticeable - differences in our lifestyles could make a massive difference,” she said.

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