Plastics: they will cost Europe 22 billion euros by 2030 | Photo: AP/European Union

Single-use plastic items will be banned from the European Union (EU) market by 2021.

The European Parliament approved the ban of plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery, plates, cotton buds, and balloon sticks. These products make up over 70 percent of all trash found in the world's oceans.

But the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) went a step further and also banned items made of oxo-degradable plastics like packaging and bags, as well as fast-food containers made of expanded polystyrene (EPS).

The draft plan presented to the European Parliament by Belgian MEP, Frédérique Ries, was adopted with 571 votes in favor, 53 against, and 34 abstentions.

"Our throw-it-all-away society is transforming our oceans into waste bins. The alternatives are there, they are not expensive, and they are often made in Europe," stresses Ries.

"I was elected almost 20 years ago, and I do not remember a text that has been so necessary and so supported by citizens. Just like we did by cutting on plastic bags, we will adapt. Our planet is worth it."

Frédérique Ries: her anti-plastic proposal was approved by the European Parliament | Photo: European Union

War on Plastics

There's more. All European Union states will also have to reduce by least 25 percent single-use burger and sandwich boxes, and food containers used for vegetables, fruits, ice creams, and desserts.

In the case of beverage bottles, they will have to be collected separately and recycled at a rate of 90 percent by 2025. Cigarette filters containing plastic will have to be reduced by 50 percent in 2025 and 80 percent by 2030.

One cigarette butt pollutes between 500 and 1,000 liters of water and takes up to 12 years to disintegrate in the environment.

Finally, all EU member states will need to collect at least 50 percent of lost or abandoned fishing gear made of plastic and recycle at least 15 percent of it by 2025.

Plastic pollution in Europe will have an environmental damage cost of 22 billion euros by 2030.