EU countries will be required to cut the use of plastic bags under new rules voted by Parliament on Tuesday.
The rules allow EU member states to choose between two options:
– They can either reduce average annual bag usage to 90 lightweight bags per citizen by the end of 2019 and to 40 by the end of 2025.
– Or no more light plastic bags are to be handed over free of charge to shoppers by the end of 2018.
Danish politician in charge of Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, Margrete Auken said: “This legislation will create a genuine win-win situation.
“We’re talking about an immense environmental problem. Billions of plastic bags end up directly in nature as untreated waste. It damages nature, harms fish, birds, and we have to get to grips with this.”
She added the EU could save 740 million euros per year.
The European parliament said the European Commission must look into the environmental impact of oxo-degradable plastic materials, which fragment into small particles.
It also said by 2017, the Commission will have to propose labelling for an EU-wide recognition of biodegradable and compostable plastic bags.
New figures show plastic bag usage fell by 80% in Scotland recently.