No more plastic bags in our woods and seas

Over 8 billion plastic carrier bags are littered in the EU every year

Today the European Parliament backed new legislation to curb the consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags in the European Union.

The new legislation will oblige member states to either adopt measures ensuring that the annual consumption level does not exceed, on average, 90 lightweight plastic carrier bags per person by the end of 2019, and not more than 40 bags per person by 2025; or alternatively, to ensure that they are not given for free at stores and sales points by the end of 2017.

S&D vice-president Kathleen Van Brempt said:

"The Parliament considerably improved the first proposal put forward by the European Commission. There is enough flexibility for member states, but action must be taken urgently.

"Over 8 billion plastic carrier bags are littered in the EU every year, with the sea being the main victim. There needs to be a change of mind-set in society, so that consumers bring along their own reusable bags when doing their shopping."

S&D MEP and spokesperson on health and environment, Matthias Groote, said:

"Non-reusable bags are highly harmful for the environment and for human health. This is why, according to the Eurobarometer, 92% of EU citizens support measures to reduce the consumption of plastic bags.

"Plastic bags end up in our lakes, rivers and oceans, causing widespread pollution, while taking hundreds of years to decompose. Today, the amount of plastic particles in our oceans is greater than the amount of plankton. The impact on sea life is devastating. The pollutants also enter the food chain, thus endangering human health. Therefore, anyone who wants to use plastic bags should bear the price and the responsibility. One of the proposed measures is to tax the use of disposable plastic bags."

S&D MEP Simona Bonafè, who is the parliamentary author on the waste package, said:

"For the first time, in the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive, we have established a specific quantitative measure on prevention, the first step of the waste hierarchy to avoid the unnecessary and damaging use of plastic bags. Until now there were only recycling targets, and the inclusion of a prevention target is a big step.

"The fact that there will be binding measures at EU level to reduce waste generation is a very good sign."