The European Parliament approved new measures today to significantly reduce single-use plastics in a new plan which compliments the UK's own efforts to tackle plastic waste.

The measures aim to turn the tide on the 10 most found single-used plastics washed up on beaches or still in the sea, as well as lost and abandoned fishing gear. Together these measures account for 70% of all marine litter.

Under the rules, some single-use plastic products will be banned where cost-effective alternatives are available. This follows the UK government's announcement that it has launched a consultation on proposals to ban the distribution and sale of plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds. For products without readily available alternatives, the focus is on boosting plastic recycling rates, and ensuring better waste management and disposal.

Conservative Environment Spokesman John Procter MEP said: "Today's vote is a step forward in the global fight against plastic pollution which harms marine life and damages our seas.

"The UK has been leading the way in the fight against plastic waste, by introducing a successful 5p charge on plastic bags, the world's first ban on products containing microbeads, and is now currently consulting on proposals to ban the sale of plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds.

"I welcome the EU's decision to significantly reduce single-use plastics in a plan which compliments the UK's efforts to protect our rivers and seas. This is a global problem, and I am pleased the UK and EU are setting the example to save our oceans.

'In supporting this legislation we have to be aware of key concerns from industry. I believe in working with business to bring about change. We must be careful not to legislate UK manufacturers out of business." 

The plan also includes measures that were championed by Conservative MEP John Flack to protect our seas from ghost fishing.

Mr Flack said: "I am thankful that MEPs have adopted proposals that I championed to tackle the hidden problem of ghost fishing. Abandoned fishing nets are polluting our seas, wasting fishing stocks and indiscriminately killing whales, sea lions and even dolphins. These new measures will help prevent this needless destruction."