11 EU Member States were urged by the European Commission on Thursday to speed up their implementation of the directive on single-use plastics. Nine of them, including Belgium, were warned that failing to do so could lead to proceedings in the European Court of Justice.
The directive, which came into force in 2019, aims to abolish single-use plastic products when sustainable alternatives are readily available and affordable.
This applies specifically to ten types of waste frequently found on European shores: cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws and swizzles, balloons and balloon stems, cups, food and drink containers, cigarette butts, plastic bags, sachets and packaging, wet wipes and sanitary items.
Together, these account for 70% of all marine litter in EU seas, with fishing paraphernalia accounting for most of the rest.
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Other key measures include introducing extended producer responsibility, collecting 90% of single-use plastic drinks bottles by 2029, and introducing labelling and collection requirements for marine waste.
However, some of these measures have not yet been fulfilled in Belgium, Estonia, Ireland, Croatia, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia and Finland.
As a result, they have been sent a 'reasoned opinions,' the last step before being referred European Court of Justice where they face a fine. Belgium now has two months to respond and implement the necessary measures.