Italy has become the first country in the European Union to ban the production and sale on non-biodegradable or compostable plastic cotton buds.
The ban on buds took effect on 1 Jan 2019, pursuant to a proposal adopted by the Italian parliament on 19 Dec 2017 to only allow cotton buds that are biodegradable and compostable according to the European standard EN 13432 for industrial composting.
Cotton buds reportedly constitute about 9% of waste found on Italian beaches. Over the past year, the authorities conducted an information campaign to educate the public about the correct disposal of cotton buds. In addition, as from 1 Jan, the packaging must also carry instructions on the correct disposal of the product, explicitly stating these are not to be thrown in toilets or drains.
While implementing the ban this year puts Italy at the head of the pack, the other countries of the European Union will soon be following suit, as the European Parliament voted in Oct 2018 to prohibit a range of commonly used single-use plastic products, starting in 2021.
Italy will also forbid the use of microplastics in cosmetics and other products, starting 1 Jan 2020.