The European Parliament has voted to limit the use of plastic bags in Europe as part of a drive to reduce pollution, either handing none out free of charge or reducing the numbers to 40 per person per year.
The law applies to lightweight plastic bags thinner than 0.05mm – the most commonly used – and member states must either to reduce annual average consumption to 90 lightweight bags per citizen by the end of 2019, and 40 by the end of 2025, or ensure that no more bags are handed out free of charge to shoppers by 2018.
However, the new rules have been met with concern by Conservative MEP and Environment Spokesman, Julie Girling who says they “…seek to achieve the right aims, but fail to put in place legislation that is clear, enforceable and workable”.
Girling added: “We want action to cut down on plastic bag use, but we also need laws that we know will work. Instead, MEPs have plucked ideas out of the air without any understanding of what the costs and implications could be, or knowing whether they can be delivered.
“We cannot call for EU law to meet principles of better regulation one day, and then throw those principles out of the window the next.
“The objectives of this law are sound. We need to reduce plastic bag use, but we want clear rules that will work, not overly prescriptive burdens that even the European Commission fears could be unworkable.”