Plans to cut plastic carrier bag use across the EU by 80 percent took a step forward yesterday (16 April), as MEPs voted in favour of the European Commission’s proposals that would require all member states to clamp down on single use carrier bags.
EU countries would have to reduce the use of the most common and most polluting plastic bags by at least 80 percent by 2019, under draft rules backed by Parliament. MEPs recommend using taxes and levies, marketing restrictions or bans.
MEP Margrete Auken said: “MEPs have today voted to significantly strengthen draft EU rules aimed at reducing plastic bag use and waste, notably to include obligatory European reduction targets and a requirement that plastic bags come at a cost. As front-running countries have demonstrated, dramatically reducing the consumption of these disposable bags is easily achievable with coherent policy. Swiftly phasing out these bags is a readily implementable solution to the pervasive problem of plastic waste in the environment.”
MEPs say that lightweight plastic bags thinner than 50 microns – the vast majority of plastic carrier bags used in the EU – are less reusable than thicker models and become waste more quickly.
MEP Margrete Auken – “As front-running countries have demonstrated, dramatically reducing the consumption of these disposable bags is easily achievable with coherent policy. Swiftly phasing out these bags is a readily implementable solution to the pervasive problem of plastic waste in the environment”
They are also more prone to littering the environment.
Member states would have to at least halve their consumption by 2017 and reduce it by 80 percent two years later – compared to 2010 figures.
They should use measures such as taxes, levies, marketing restrictions or bans to stop shops from giving out plastic bags for free, except for very light ones, used to wrap loose foods such as raw meat, fish and dairy products.
Plastic bags used to wrap foods such as fruit, vegetables and confectionery should be replaced by 2019 by carrier bags made of recycled paper or biodegradable and compostable bags.
Requirements for compostable and biodegradable packaging should be amended, MEPs say.
Parliament voted at first reading to ensure that the work done during this mandate can be taken up by the new Parliament and used as a basis for further negotiations with EU member states.