Representatives of European Union member states hammered out a deal Nov. 21 to reduce consumption of lightweight plastic bags to 40 bags per person per year by 2025.
National governments will have to either reduce average lightweight plastic bags consumption to 90 bags per person per year by 2019 and 40 by 2025 or ensure that, by 2018, consumers pay for their bags. A second unanimous vote was needed because the original agreement had been opposed by the European Commission, the EU's executive body.
In response, European trade body PlasticsEurope said that it was concerned about the deal because it could create a precedent for banning specific packaging products. The organization said, however, that it supported mandatory pricing for the bags and a ban on the use of oxo-biodegradable plastics in them.
PlasticsEurope Executive Director Karl-H. Foerster said: “The possibility to ban plastics bags goes against the general principle of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive. It is concerning as it opens the door for countries to ban not only plastics bags but other types of packaging as well. Such an inconsistent political framework that would allow member states to introduce different regulations on packaging would hinder investments and innovation and would create barriers to trade in packaged goods in Europe.”
He added that that the possibility for EU member states to ban lightweight plastic bags could set a precedent which will lead to a patchwork of national regulations on other types of packaging as well, thereby creating trade barriers and hindering the EU internal market.
“The European plastics industry, however, supports the imposition of a fee or tax on all carrier bags irrespective of the material, as it helps to raise consumers' awareness and effectively prevents littering.
“A mandatory charge is the best option as it has been proved to be an effective tool to reduce the over-consumption of lightweight plastic bags,” said Foerster.
“We should understand that plastics are too valuable to be thrown away. Charging for bags can have a positive effect on raising consumers' awareness of the economic value of the resources that have been used to produce the bag.”