How will your life be without plastic straws?

The European Commission said its proposal would seek to cut marine litter in half of the 10 most prominent items and avoid environmental damage estimated at over $250 billion over the next dozen years.

EU Vice-President Frans Timmermans said that plastic cutlery would not be banned completely, but steps would be taken to have them made of sustainable materials when possible.

"You can still organize a picnic, drink a cocktail and clean your ears just like before," Timmermans said.

The move from the EU as a whole follows moves from individual member states such as France, which has already outlawed single-use plastic bags in supermarkets.

"The only way to stop plastics pouring into our oceans is to turn off the flow at its source: production," said Lasse Gustavsson, the European executive director of the environmental group Oceana, as he lauded the initiative.

European Green Party lawmaker Monica Frassoni also welcomed the initiative and added that "the scale of the problem means that we cannot rely on individual European countries to take action and must instead find a Europe-wide response."