Dolphin with a plastic bag attached to its body

Credit: Globice

Bin the bags to stop oceans from choking on plastic!

With International Plastic Bag Free Day celebrated on Sunday (July 3), EIA and its campaign partners have used the occasion to remind EU member states they have just four months left to break free from single-use plastic bags.

The historic deal agreed in 2015 as a first step in tackling marine plastic pollution should cut the number of bags Europeans use each year by more than 75 per cent by 2025.

Marine plastic pollution is a mounting problem for the world’s oceans and a major source of this blight is plastic bags, more than 100 billion of which are used each year in Europe; most end up in landfills, incinerators or as litter in aquatic environments.

In addition to harming the marine environment, producing these bags requires hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil per year. Plastic bags can take centuries to degrade and are responsible, together with other litter items, for the deaths of an estimated 100,000 marine mammals every year..

EU Governments have until the end of November to adopt legal measures to drastically reduce the use of single-use plastic carrier bags. While some EU countries, such as Italy and France, have showed the way ahead others such as Lithuania and Slovakia are still lagging behind.

Today, EIA and partner organisations Fundació Prevenció de Residus, Surfrider Foundation Europe and Zero Waste Europe are spreading the word that a plastic bag-free world is possible and that reusable alternatives are widely available.

EIA Oceans Campaigner Sarah Baulch said: “In agreeing these measures, Europe took a significant step towards tackling marine plastic pollution. We hope that Member States will maintain this ambition by agreeing further measures in the forthcoming EU circular economy package.

“The public can also play a vital role in preventing marine plastic pollution by refusing single-use items such as plastic bottles and coffee cups and switching to reusable alternatives.”