EU Goes Full Nanny-State: Proposes Ban On Plastic Straws & Cotton Swabs To "Protect Consumers"

  • Written by Zero Hedge
  • Published in Economics

American social media firms are still reeling after being hit with a raft of lawsuits on the first day of the European Union's GDPR enforcement last week. And already, the bloc is considering its next piece of nanny-state legislation that would create unprecedented headaches for both the food-service industry as well as the companies that manufacture the plastic products used in restaurants, coffee shops and bars.

Not to mention consumers, who likely would bear the brunt of higher costs associated with the rule.

The EU on Monday unveiled a proposal that would ban single-serving plastic products like straws and plastic cutlery in an attempt to cut down on marine litter. The draft rule would ban the 10 plastic products that, according to the Associated Press, comprise 70% of all the garbage floating around the ocean.

These other items would include disposable food containers, single-use cotton swabs (typically used to clean people's ears), as well as plastic plates and cups often used in fast-food restaurants.

According to the BBC, the EU believes the ban will accomplish a number of desirable goals:

  • Avoid 3.4 million tons of carbon emissions.

  • Prevent 22 billion euros ($25.6 billion) of environmental damage by 2030.

  • Save consumers 6.5 billion euros ($7.6 billion).

To be sure, it will likely be three or four years before these rules take effect - that is, assuming they are passed into law in the first place. Not only would the law need to be approved by the European Parliament, but every EU member state (there are presently 28 member states).


The law would also reduce the sale of these plastic products to households as well, as EU First Vice-President Frans Timmermans points out. The law, Timmermans argues, would go a long way toward preserving the environment as the "harmful" plastic items are replaced with more environmentally friendly (and probably more expensive) products.

"Plastic waste is undeniably a big issue and Europeans need to act together to tackle this problem," EU First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said.

"Today's proposals will reduce single-use plastics on our supermarket shelves through a range of measures.

"We will ban some of these items and substitute them with cleaner alternatives, so people can still use their favourite products."


"You can still organize a pick-nick, drink a cocktail and clean your ears just like before," Timmermans said.

Timmermans added that the single-serving utensils wouldn't be completely banned - instead, companies would be "encouraged" to use sustainable materials instead of cheap plastic. The new rules would also reduce the sale of these items in supermarkets. Ultimately, the new rules would seek to hold the makers of these items responsible for the environmental harm they cause by...

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