Germany bans plastic straws, food containers, and other single-use products

The German executive body voted to ban many single-use plastic products as part of its effort to reduce plastic pollution.

The Federal Cabinet's Wednesday decision aligns Germany with goals put in place by the European Union to have each member-state cut back on plastic usage. The vote bans plastic straws, plastic food containers, single-use cutlery, plastic stirring sticks, and polystyrene cups and boxes. The ban does not take effect until July 3, 2021.

Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said she hopes that the changes will stop "throwaway culture" in Germany. She noted that 20% of the nation's trash consists of single-use plastic items.

The drive to reduce plastic pollution has hit the United States as well. Several major cities have banned the use of plastic straws, food containers, and shopping bags to reduce their plastic consumption. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has also said he supports a nationwide ban on plastic bags.

The coronavirus pandemic has tested some anti-plastic policies as businesses became dependent on single-use items to avoid additional contact with customers. Some states, including Massachusetts, temporarily lifted their bans on plastic bags to stop customers from carrying in reusable bags from home that could transfer the virus to employees.

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