The European Parliament (EP) agreed to introduce new rules aimed at reducing the pollution caused by the continuing widespread use of plastic bags. European shoppers will be obliged to use re-usable bags that are less hazardous for the environment, or pay extra at the counter.
The law applies to lightweight plastic bags thinner than 0.05mm, the most commonly used across the European Union (EU).
EU member countries will be presented with two alternatives in enforcing the agreement:
- Reduce annual average consumption to 90 lightweight bags per citizen by the end of 2019, and 40 by the end of 2025.
- Ensure that no more lightweight plastic bags are handed out free of charge to shoppers after 2018.
Danish EP member Margrete Auken, steered the legislation through parliament and called the move a major step for the environment. “We are talking about an immense environmental problem, with hundreds of billions of plastic bags being used every year,” she said.
“The European Commission [EC] said that countries should deal with the matter themselves, but in fact they are not. €740m per annum, according to the Commission’s own calculations, will be saved.”
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