The regional parliament of Spain's Balearic Islands has approved a new waste control law prohibiting the use of disposable plastic items, such as cotton buds, plastic bags and plastic trays used to wrap food in supermarkets.
The law aims to see these items and others, such as plastic plates, drinking straws, plastic glasses and cutlery, entirely phased out by 2021 and replaced by substitutes made from biodegradable materials.
Those who break the new rules will face fines of between 300 and 2 million euros (1 euro = 1.14 US dollars), depending on seriousness, according to the Spanish state television network RTVE.
RTVE reported that certain items, such as single use plastic bags, products that contain microplastic ingredients, non-refillable cigarette lighters, ink cartridges and coffee capsules that are neither recyclable nor biodegradable, will be phased out by the end of this year.
The law will also introduce a system for the separation of waste materials over the next two years, with local authorities on the islands obliged to offer separate collection of organic, oil-based and dangerous materials, as well as textiles.
The law, which aims to see 75 percent of food containers recycled by 2030, has been passed in line with European Union regulations, which aim to reduce waste by 10 percent of their 2010 level by 2021 and by 20 percent by 2030.
Plastics and microplastics are estimated to represent 95 percent of the total amount of waste floating in the Mediterranean Sea and are responsible for at least 3 percent of whale deaths in the region.