In the EU, we currently use 100 billion bags per year. This is a tremendous waste because very often they are only used once. Many end up in our oceans and seas. One recent measure in combating this resource waste and littering is the new EU Plastic Bags Directive. It obliges Member States to drastically cut the use of lightweight bags. How are they getting on with this?
European Environment Commissioner – Karmenu Vella
Under the new Plastics Bags Directive, national governments must ensure that by the end of 2019 no more than 90 lightweight bags are consumed annually per person. By the end of 2025, that number should drop to 40 bags each. To reach these targets, they can apply different measures. These include charges or levies, or national reduction targets. The targets can be achieved either through compulsory measures or agreements with economic sectors. It is also possible to ban bags – if such bans align with EU law. Member States had to inform the Commission by November 2016 how they are applying the new rules.
Some countries have opted for mandatory charges. Others, such as Germany and Austria, for agreements with the retail sector. Alternatively, France and Italy have banned all but biodegradable and compostable plastic bags. The UK and the Netherlands, in turn, opted for charging for bags. In Estonia, too, bags will no longer be available free of charge.
The Commission is prioritising implementation of the EU Plastic Bags Directive and has therefore already sent warning letters to those Member States from which it had not heard by the deadline.
But curbing the use of plastic bags is only one element in the move towards more sustainable consumption and in order to reduce the leakage of plastics to the environment.
The Commission, as part of the Action Plan on the Circular Economy, is working on a new Plastics Strategy.
Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said: “We need a vision of a different plastics economy, and we want plastics in the European Union to become circular. That is why, by the end of the year, we will publish a European Strategy on Plastics in a Circular Economy.”
Source: Environment for Europeans