27 November 2014

EU approves law reducing plastic bag use by 50% in 2019

PlasticsEurope states it “would be in favor of regulating oxo-degradable plastics”

The European Union unanimously approved measures that will require member states to take steps to slash the use of plastic bags on Friday. Under the new EU law, the number of lightweight plastic bags will be limited to 90 per person per year by the end of 2019, representing a reduction of 50% from current use.

This number will be further reduced to 40 per person by the end of 2025. Average consumption of single-use plastic bags was 176 bags per person in 2010. Alternatively, member states may choose to ensure that, by 2018, these bags are not handed out to shoppers free of charge

“This is an historic moment for all of Europe. For the first time ever we have agreed on ambitious measures to reduce the amount of plastic bag waste in the environment. This is good news for the environment and all Europeans who expected the EU to take ambitious action on plastic bags”, said Margrete Auken (Greens/EFA, DK), who is steering the legislation through Parliament.

“As front-running countries have demonstrated, dramatically reducing the consumption of these disposable bags is easily achievable with a consistent policy. Swiftly phasing out these bags is a readily-implementable solution to the pervasive problem of plastic waste in the environment”, she added.

Lightweight plastic bags thinner than 50 microns – the vast majority of plastic carrier bags used in the EU – are less reusable than thicker models and become waste more quickly. They are also more prone to litter the environment.

PlasticsEurope states it “would be in favor of regulating oxo-degradable plastics”

PlasticsEurope has expressed its concerns regarding the agreement reached between Member States and negotiators from the European Parliament on the proposal on plastic bags

While the plastics industry supports a mandatory charge on all bags regardless of which material they are made from, the European plastics industry fears that the possibility for Member States to ban lightweight plastic bags sets a precedent which will lead to a patchwork of national regulations on other types of packaging as well, thereby creating trade barriers and hindering the EU internal market.

“The possibility to ban plastics bags goes against the general principle of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive. It is concerning as it opens the door for Members States to ban not only plastics bags but other types of packaging as well. Such an inconsistent political framework that would allow Member States to introduce different regulations on packaging would hinder investments and innovation and would create barriers to trade in packaged goods in Europe” said Karl-H. Foerster, Executive Director of PlasticsEurope.

PlasticsEurope would support a regulation on the use of so-called “oxo-degradable” plastics in Europe since independent studies have shown that the fragmentation process is often inadequate and that the chemicals used are detrimental to the recycling process. The review of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive will offer the opportunity to regulate such products.

Source: Bioplastics MAGAZINE, 2014-11-24.

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