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Leonid Bershidsky

Europe Needs to Do More Than Ban Plastic Forks

A new law outlaws some disposable products, but doesn’t curb the EU’s huge exports of waste.

Too much to handle.

Too much to handle.

Photographer: Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images

The European Union is close to outlawing some single-use plastic products, such as cutlery, straws, coffee stirrers and cotton swab sticks – but the measures are too narrow and too lenient toward producers to have a meaningful benefit for the environment. The EU, as one of the biggest producers and the biggest exporter of plastic waste, should do better than this.

QuicktakeThe Problem With Plastic

On Wednesday, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to approve the new rules on plastics. Member states must agree to the measure, but that’s all but guaranteed since the final proposal was coordinated with them. The idea was to cut down on the use of the top 10 plastic objects that wash up on European beaches, as well as on plastic fishing gear, another large source of the marine pollution that the European Commission estimates costs the bloc’s economy up to 695 million euros ($780 million) a year in damages to tourism and fisheries.