Enough with polluting plastic bags, the EU Member States will have to reduce their use by 80 percent by 2019. Taxes, levies, marketing restrictions or bans will be used to the purpose. “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,” said MEP Margrete Auken (Greens), Rapporteur. The report was approved by 539 votes to 51, with 72 abstentions.
According to Auken, “As front-running countries have demonstrated, dramatically reducing the consumption of these disposable bags is easily achievable with coherent policy.” In addition, “swiftly phasing out these bags is a readily implementable solution to the pervasive problem of plastic waste in the environment.”
According to the available data, in 2010 every European citizen used about 198 plastic carrier bags, most of them lightweight. These are re-used less frequently than ticker bags, then they are more prone to littering and polluting the environment. Reduction targets were established in 50 percent by 2017 and 80 percent by 2019.
Member States should use measures to reach these targets, 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.
In addition, even 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.
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.