April 17, 2014
European Union countries could have to reduce the use of plastic shopping bags by at least 80 percent by 2019 under draft rules backed by the European Parliament April 16.
Members of the European Parliament recommend using taxes and levies, marketing restrictions or bans.
“MEPs have voted to significantly strengthen draft E.U. 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,” said Danish MEP, Margrete Auken, whose report was approved by 539 votes to 51, with 72 abstentions.
“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 agreed that lightweight plastic bags thinner than 50 microns — the vast majority of plastic bags used in the E.U. — are less reusable than thicker models and become waste more quickly.
The proposed plans will be presented to the European Parliament following next month’s elections. If passed into law, it would ensure that member states would have to at least halve their consumption by 2017 and reduce it by 80 percent two years later compared with 2010 figures.