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Malta amongst the first to ban imports of single-use plastics

That’s right, folks! The importation of single-use plastic products was banned in Malta as of 1 January, 2021. The ban was implemented following the completion of the public consultation and publication of legal notices on 30 December, 2020. Malta is amongst the first countries to ban single-use plastic products in the European Union, but what does this ban mean exactly?

The ban applies to products including plastic bags, cutlery, straws, plates, cotton buds, food containers and stirrers. The sale and distribution of such items will be legally prohibited, however, as of 2022.

“It’s high time we give answers to our children who ask about all the litter on our beaches, who see photos of washed-up seagulls with stomachs full of plastic products, and injured turtles caught up in plastic bags. We will continue to work to decrease pollution, launch our climate change strategy, improve our health and that of our ecosystems, with tangible results,” said environment minister Aaron Farrugia.

Here is a full list of what will no longer be imported:

  • plastic bags

  • cotton bud sticks

  • plastic cutlery and plates

  • straws

  • balloon sticks

  • polystyrene containers

Plastic food containers and cups, as well as biodegradable/compostable bags are exempt from the ban. Also, plastic bags thinner than 15 microns.

Environmentalists have slammed the ban, saying that “the ban was a step in the right direction, but it was not bold enough and we can do better,” in the words of environment campaigner Cami Appelgren.

They also called for a number of other items to be added, including:

  • balloons

  • plastic cigarette filters

  • plastic cups and containers

  • wet wipes

According to legislation, those who fail to comply with the new regulations will be liable to a fine of up to €1,500. Reoffending will be met with a fine of up to €2,500.

As of July 2024, the ban on single-use plastics will also include plastic beverage containers, including those made of composite material, with a capacity of up to three litres, which don’t have attachable caps or lids.

Do you think the ban is enough?