(ABC NEWS)- Sad desk lunches may be a little less sad for the environment, at least in Europe.
The European Union has proposed new laws to ban some everyday single-use plastic products including straws, cutlery and plates.
Some of the other familiar items that would be banned, should the law be adopted, are plastic drink stirrers, plastic cotton swabs and plastic sticks used on certain types of balloons.
Beyond that, it sets targets to reduce usage of plastic food and drink containers.
It also would force plastic producers to cover the cost of the clean-up of other products, like lightweight plastic bags, food containers and balloons.
The European Commission, which created the proposal, cited plastic litter in oceans as the concern prompting the action.
The European Parliament and Council will review the proposal and can either amend or approve it before it goes into effect.
Environmental activists, like Kevin Stairs, a policy adviser in the European office for Greenpeace, applaud the proposal.
“We think it’s a step in the right direction,” Stairs told ABC News.
“Of course, it’s not a comprehensive solution for plastic pollution, but it does set in motion the necessary measures,” to address plastic pollution and sustainable material policies, he said.
“It is only a handful of items that are being banned, but the message is very loud,” Stairs added.
Plastic bans and restrictions in the U.S.
While certain cities and states have taken steps to reduce plastic consumption and waste on the local level in the U.S., a country-wide ban is far off.
One of the most common approaches has been in banning or regulating the use of plastic bags.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 73 bills relating to the use of plastic bags in retail settings were introduced in state legislatures across the country during the 2017-2018 session.
The possibilities of more extensive single-use plastic bans in the U.S.
The restaurant industry in the U.S. would be greatly affected by any changes in line with the EU proposals, an industry expert says.
Laura Abshire, the director of sustainability policy and government affairs at the National Restaurant Association, said that it could hurt restaurants who are already dealing with labor shortages and give owners another issue to address.