Plastic bags: getting rid of a bad habit

Plastic bags: getting rid of a bad habit

2015. 04. 28.

The compromise text was already approved by the Council and the EP's Environment Committee. After today's decision, Member States will have to reduce plastic bag usage by either imposing a price on plastic bags by the end of 2018 or limiting the annual consumption of plastic bags to 90 bags per person by the end of 2019, and to 40 by the end of 2025.

EPP Group Shadow Rapporteur György Hölvényi MEP commented: "Today's decision reflects a hard-earned compromise. As a result, the EU is getting rid of a bad habit and is taking an important step towards a cleaner Europe."

Plastic bags used by consumers to carry food products (between 15 and 50 microns in thickness), targeted by the Directive, pose a greater environmental risk than thicker ones. Due to irresponsible consumer habits, 90% of these bags are thrown away after first usage, amounting to 8 billion bags turning into waste every year. Decomposition of plastic bags can take hundreds of years, making accumulation a major problem. Plastics constitute a large part of marine debris, especially the single-use items: packaging, bags, bottles. Even those plastics which are degradable do not entirely disappear into nature. After a certain time, they turn into microscopic particles, microplastics, which are harmful to the environment and especially to marine ecosystems.

An informal agreement between the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council was reached last year. Since then, the Council adopted the text at first reading and the European Parliament approved it today.