EU reaches agreement to cut down on plastic bags

EIA welcomes Friday’s agreement by the European Union institutions on European wide measures to address lightweight plastic carrier bags.

Once adopted the new rules will allow EU countries to choose either to impose mandatory charges for plastic bags, or to introduce measures to reduce consumption of single use plastic bags to 90 bags per person by end of 2019 and 40 bags per person by the end of 2025 (the EU average in 2010 was 198).

Head of Oceans Campaign, Clare Perry said: “While it’s clear that Member States could and should go a lot further, this agreement is a very positive result given the recalcitrance of certain Member states, including the UK, during the negotiations. Importantly it allows countries to enact their own plastic bag bans, something that has widespread public support.”

EIA campaigner Sarah Baulch said: “Over 8 billion single use plastic bags are littered every year in the EU, wreaking untold devastation on our marine wildlife. We congratulate MEP Margrete Auken and her team for pushing through this very significant decision and urge EU member states to implement the strongest possible measures and show leadership on this issue.”

The continued accumulation of litter in the marine environment is considered a major threat to marine biodiversity. Over a million marine mammals, birds, turtles and fish are estimated to die every year as a result of entanglement or ingestion of man-made litter.  Once discarded in the environment, plastic carrier bags and other plastic waste take hundreds of years to fragment but never biodegrade, ultimately fragmenting into microplastics which may also pose a health risk to animals and humans. Many countries worldwide have already enacted bans on plastic bags in recognition of their impact, with the State of California the latest to pass a ban on single-use plastic bags.