A ban on single-use plastic products such as cutlery, straws, plates and cotton buds has been approved by the European parliament. MEPs voted overwhelmingly to introduce the new law, with only 35 voting against it.

Under the legislation, various single-use plastic items will be banned across the EU by 2021. These include plastic cutlery and plates, polystyrene cups and food containers, as well as items made from oxo-degradable plastics, which fragment into small pieces over time and contribute to microplastic pollution. There is also a new recycling target for plastic bottles, with member states being asked to ensure 90% of plastic bottles are collected by 2029 and that bottles are made of 30% recycled material by 2030. Compulsory labelling on the environmental impacts of plastic-containing disposable products including wet wipes and cigarettes will also be introduced in the coming years.

‘Europe now has a legislative model to defend and promote at international level, given the global nature of the issue of marine pollution involving plastics,’ said lead MEP Frédérique Ries in a statement. She added that the new rules will reduce the cost of environmental damage caused by single-use plastics by €22 billion (£19 million).