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MEPs vote to reduce plastic bag use


Draft rules from the European Parliament’s Environment Committee may see European Union states having to reduce consumption of plastic bags by 80 per cent by 2019.

MEPs on the committee voted to recommend using economic instruments such as taxes and levies, marketing restrictions or bans of plastic carrier bags.

Green MEP Margrete Auken said: “MEPs have voted for EU legislation that would deliver a significant and swift reduction in single-use plastic bags. As front running countries in the EU and beyond have demonstrated, dramatically reducing the consumption of these plastic bags is easily achievable with a coherent policy. Swiftly phasing out these bags is a very low-hanging fruit on the list of solutions to the pervasive problem of plastic waste in the environment.

“MEPs also supported provisions to ensure mandatory pricing of plastic bags in the food sector, as well as a strong recommendation to do so in the non-food sector too. Putting a price on single-use bags is a proven and highly effective policy tool for reducing their excessive consumption.”

Under the proposed rules, lightweight plastic bags with a thickness below 50 microns would need to be reduced by 50 per cent by 2017 and 80 per cent by 2019.

Plastic bags that are used to wrap foods such as fruit, vegetables and confectionary would be replaced by 2019 by carrier bags made of recycled paper or biodegradable and compostable bags. However, light plastic bags used to wrap loose food such as raw meat, fish and dairy products would be free from the charge.

All MEPs will now vote on the proposal from the Environment Committee at a full plenary session on 14-17 April.