Germany bans many single-use plastics from mid-2021
Back in 2018, the European Union moved to ban many single-use plastic products. Now, Germany has taken its first steps towards implementing this. A corresponding regulation has just been approved by the federal cabinet and should come into effect by mid-2021.
Plastic cutlery, plates, straws and cups to be banned by 2021
On Wednesday, the cabinet launched a regulation to ban single-use plastics, thereby bringing Germany into step with the EU regulation. Accordingly, certain disposable products for which there are already environmentally-friendly alternatives will be banned in future.
This includes single-use plastic plates, cutlery, coffee stirrers, drinking straws, cotton buds and balloon holders. The regulation also applies to takeaway food containers and cups made from polystyrene, as well as products made from so-called biodegradable plastic, which disintegrates into microparticles under the influence of UV light and oxygen.
Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said she wanted Germany to move away from its “throwaway culture” and promote “better, innovative and environmentally-friendly products and solutions.” Single-use plastics are “superfluous and not a sustainable use of resources,” she said. “Far too often, plastics end up in the environment or the oceans… If global littering continues, we will have more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050.”
Plastic waste in Germany
According to estimates from the Federal Environment Ministry, approximately 320.000 disposable cups are used every hour in Germany. Disposable tableware and to-go packaging produced a staggering 346.000 tons of waste in 2017, according to the Society for Packaging Market Research - and this figure has steadily been increasing.
The products covered by the ban currently account for about a 10th of the total volume of waste collected from public rubbish bins, and in some cases even up to a fifth, according to Vice President of the Association of Municipal Enterprises, Patrick Hasenkamp.
The regulation, which now needs to also gain the approval of the Bundestag and the Bundesrat, is based on an EU directive that requires single-use products to be removed from the market by July 3, 2021, at the latest.