The European Union (EU) has implemented a ban on certain single-use plastic items as of 3 July.

Initially put forward on 31 May, the rules are included in the Single-Use Plastics Directive, which aims to eliminate ten single-use plastic items that represent 70% of all marine litter in the EU.

These plastic items are cotton bud sticks, cutlery, plates, straws, stirrers, sticks for party balloons, and food and drink containers made from expanded polystyrene.

The ban also covers all products made from oxo-degradable plastic.

The ban does not cover medical-related plastic items such as masks and gloves, which saw a significant growth in use during the Covid-19 pandemic.

EU Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius said on Twitter: “Today is the day Europe waves goodbye to single-use plastic plates, cutlery, straws, balloon sticks and cotton buds, cups, food and beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene, and all products made of oxo-degradable plastic.”

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Some single-use plastic products will need to be marked as such on the packaging or product itself to inform consumers that they contain plastic. This is intended to help reduce the environmental impact of these products.

As part of this commitment, the EU has set a 77% separate collection target for plastic bottles by 2025. This is due to be increased to 90% by 2029.

The bloc aims to use 25% of recycled plastic in polyethylene (PET) beverage bottles by 2025 and 30% in all plastic beverage bottles from 2030.

In March, South Australia banned the sale, supply or distribution of single-use plastic products such as drinking straws, stirrers and cutlery.

The ban, considered to be the first of its kind across Australia, came after legislation was passed in the South Australian Parliament last year.