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Plastic straw ban comes into force

Some single-use plastic items, like straws, are banned in Finland as of Monday.

EU member states are no longer allowed to sell single-use plastic plates, cutlery, straws, balloon sticks or cotton buds. Image: EU-komissio, Ismo Pekkarinen / AOP, kuvankäsittely: Samuli Huttunen / Yle

Finland has ratified an EU directive banning certain single-use plastic products that went into force in July. The so-called Single‑Use Plastics Directive (siirryt toiseen palveluun) aims to reduce the volume and impact of plastic products on the environment.

The farewell to banned plastic items will not likely hugely impact people's daily lives, as stores have already been stocking alternative products and the outlawed disposables can be sold off until they're gone.

Plastic-stemmed cotton buds are now made out of paper or wood. In the run-up to the ban, fast food restaurants have swapped out plastic straws for paper ones.

The plastic products affected by the ban include plastic straws, utensils and plastic-covered disposable plates, plastic ear swabs, plastic balloon sticks, plastic cocktail or drink mixing sticks as well as single use oxo-degradable plastic products and some types of polystyrene, including various food packaging.

As of Monday, some products, like tampons, sanitary pads, cups, tobacco filter products and wet wipes, must also clearly indicate that they contain plastic. The marking consists of an image of a turtle to illustrate the aim of the directive is to combat plastic pollution, particularly litter that ends up in waterways.

An Yle investigation earlier this year found that Finland ended up burning most of the discarded plastic that was sorted by households for recycling.

The Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes) is responsible for implementing the directive.