EU governments have unanimously agreed to slash the use of plastic grocery bags.
The Council of Ministers, the European Parliament and the European Commission agreed on a new policy that would offer countries three options for cutting bag use.
They include either introducing mandatory pricing by 2018 or banning plastic carrier bags altogether or adopting a plastic bag reduction target of 90 bags per person per year by 2019 and 40 bags by 2025
According to an estimate by the European Parliamentary Research Service, there were 200 bags for everyone who lived in the EU in 2010.
The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) said the move is good news for Europe and the environment.
Piotr Barczak, EEB Policy Officer on Waste added: “In 92% of cases, these bags are used only once and then become waste. They have little economic value but a highly detrimental and visible impact on the environment. Thanks to this agreement, Europe will see a big drop in plastic bag littering.”
The EEB however “regrets” the ban on oxo-degradable bags has been dropped from the agreement, despite evidence these bag are neither recyclable nor compostable.
The plastics industry was disappointed by the decision to allow member states to ban plastic bags altogether, arguing it could create trade barriers within a single market.
Karl-H. Foerster, Executive Director of PlasticsEurope added: “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.”