A ban on the import and export of commercial quantities of single-use plastic items came into force in Gibraltar on Thursday, after legislation was introduced to comply with an EU regulation that certain single-use plastic products should be prohibited by 2021.
A 'single-use plastic' product is defined as something which is made completely or partly from plastic that is not produced to be reused. It includes cotton buds, plastic straws, cutlery, plates, cups and dishes, drink containers including their lids, drink stirrers, polystyrene food containers and toothpicks. These are the items which can no longer be brought into Gibraltar in commercial quantities, but that is just the start: by the end of July 2021 an even wider range of single-use plastic items will be banned in every country in the EU.
The new legislation in Gibraltar will not affect commercial quantities of these items which have already been ordered and will arrive before the end of the year, as long as proof of purchase can be provided.
Gibraltar has often been in the news for its commitment to the environment. In 2016 there was an outcry after it was announced that the traditional release of tens of thousands of red and white balloons on National Day in September was to be discontinued because of the harm the balloons caused to marine wildlife living and migrating around Gibraltar's shores. Last year, the government took a further step and banned the release of helium balloons on the Rock.