While the U.S. is beginning to ban the use of plastic straws, the European Union passed legislation today to ban all single-use plastics by 2021.
The ban will prohibit the use of all disposable plastic-made products that are designed to be used only once over a short time span before being thrown away.
This include straws, forks, knives, plates, and food and beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene and all products made of oxo-degradable plastic.
Fortune reported that the legislation was introduced after the European Commission found that 85 percent of marine litter is plastic. Plastic has been found in species such as fish, turtles, and shellfish, and in the bellies of dead whales, and by extension, also has ended up in food consumed by people.
The E.U. recycles only a quarter of the 25 million tons of plastic waste it produces per year, according to Reuters. The ban is an effort to encourage manufacturers to step up their recycling efforts.
“Europe is setting new and ambitious standards, paving the way for the rest of the world,” European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans told Reuters.
The measure also requires E.U. countries to collect and recycle at least 90 percent of beverage bottles by 2029, and tobacco companies will be required to cover the costs for public collection of cigarette butts, which are the second most littered single-use item in Europe, Reuters reported.
Awareness toward how we use plastic has received more attention recently due to the fact that China stopped accepting plastic waste in January, 2018. Up until then, 45 percent of the world’s recyclable plastics were shipped to China.
Amy Brooks, a doctoral student of engineering at the University of Georgia, was the lead author of a study published in Scientific Advances, that researched how that has affected plastics disposal worldwide.
She told NPR that most of those plastics that were thought to be recycled are now “ending up in landfills, being incinerated or sent to other countries that lack the infrastructure to properly manage it.”
America may not be ready for an outright ban on plastics, but there is forward motion, and some opposition, in prohibiting the use of plastic straws.
Fortune reported California Assemblyman Ian Calderon faced outrage and ridicule when he first proposed a bill that would make straws only available upon request.
Many conservatives took to Twitter using the proposed straw ban as a chance to spite liberals.
Townhall Editor and Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich tweeted this photograph in response.
Pussycat Doll-turned-second amendment provocateur Kaya Jones also got in on the responses.
Alana Mastrangelo, a writer and political activist known for provocative Twitter stunts, compared the right to drink from a plastic straw to the right to bear arms, in a tweet that has since been deleted.
“Hey, GOVERNMENT, you can’t take my AR-15, so what makes you think you can take my plastic straw?” she wrote. “I don’t need your permission, you are subordinate to me, and that’s the world you’re stuck living in.”
Jokes aside, NBC News reported that more than a dozen cities moved last year to control the use of plastic straws, along with Assemblyman Calderon’s “on request” law that California passed, which took effect January 1.
More than 30 bills have been introduced in 22 states in 2019, according to Scott DeFife, vice president of government affairs for the Plastics Industry Association, which supports plastic manufacturers.