Banning single use plastics is a typical example of good intentions triumphing over sound judgement.

October 22, 2018

The author is the former European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services.

With the Commission and Parliament both starting their last legislative year, one of the last challenges left on the political agenda is what to do about single-use plastics. The proposal currently making its way through Parliament is to ban the sale of products made from single-use plastics, from cotton buds to plastic straws. Member States are expected to increase efforts to collect used single-use drinks bottles, with a 90% collection target set for 2025. The costs for this scheme are to be funded by business, which is also expected to pay for new waste management programmes and clean-up schemes.

According to Commissioner Frans Timmermans, the current draft regulations aim for nothing less than a ‘global race to the top’ in the cleaning up of the world’s oceans, our environment, our food and even our bodies. It’s hard not to be in awe of such noble aims. After all, who doesn’t want cleaner oceans, food, and bodies? Still, any proposal can only be truly impressive when its outcomes are as inspiring as its intentions. This is where the proposal in its current form will end up falling short.

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