The United Kingdom government has been accused of trying to block agreement over European Union legislation curbing lightweight plastic bags usage to favor a U.K. plastics company with links to David Cameron's Conservative Party.
A Danish Green member of the European Parliament Margrete Auken made the claims ahead of an important Nov. 17 meeting between representatives of the parliament, European Commission and the EU Council of Ministers.
The Danish MEP wants EU countries to commit to reducing lightweight plastic bags usage by 50 percent within three years from the adoption of the legislation, and by 80 percent within five years or set a mandatory price for these bags, following Ireland's example.
“The opposition in the [EU] Council [of Ministers] is being led by the U.K., which is trying to organize a blocking minority,” Auken alleged in a Nov. 12 news briefing in Brussels. Most EU laws have to pass the council with a qualified majority of around 66 percent of votes, with member states commanding votes roughly representing their population numbers.
In charge of negotiating the legislation for the European Parliament, Auken claimed that the U.K. has been motivated to protect Symphony Environmental Technologies, which produces technology for oxo-biodegradable plastics, used in many lightweight plastic bags. She said the company has good relations with the Conservative Party, and the Conservative member of parliament Nirj Deva is the company's chairman.
“Oxo-biodegradable plastic bags fragment and become microplastics within two to five years,” said Auken, citing a 2010 study by the U.K.'s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). The microplastics do not disappear afterwards, she added.
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