The European Commission has presented plans to end the use of products that are bought, used and thrown away, in an effort to combat climate change.
The rules would ensure that products are designed and manufactured to last, meaning customers would be able to use them for longer before disposing of them.
The plans are also likely to create standards in the UK as EU manufacturers would see little worth in making lower-grade models that can only be sold in Britain after Brexit.
It is seen as the most ambitious plan so far to reduce the impact of disposable products on the climate.
The legislation aims to force manufacturers to make items that do not break, with the cost of repair or replacement falling on them rather than the customer.
The plan builds on the European Commission’s proposal on the impact that single-use plastics have on the world’s oceans. In 2018, the commission proposed the first legislative proposal for the ‘Plastics Strategy’ aiming to clean up beaches and waterways in the EU.
In a report named ‘A European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy’, the European Commission outlined a need to combat the use and disposal of plastics.
The report stated: “It is estimated that between 75,000 and 300,000 tonnes of microplastics are released into the environment each year in the EU.
“While a large number of microplastics result from the fragmentation of larger pieces of plastic waste, significant quantities also enter the environment directly, making it more challenging to track and prevent them.
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“Moving decisively towards a more prosperous and sustainable plastics economy could deliver considerable benefits. To reap these, Europe needs a strategic vision, setting out what a ‘circular’ plastics economy could look like in the decades ahead.”
A 2017 report by the organisation Seas at Risk, titled ‘Single-Use Plastics and the Marine Environment’, suggested that an estimated 100,000 tonnes of plastic are dumped into oceans by EU countries each year, with single-use plastics making up to 49% of beach litter.