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Holistic approach needed to reduce consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags

September 10, 2015

Holistic approach needed to reduce consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags

Member States already have different national policies in place to limit the consumption of plastic bags. On 29 April 2015, the European Parliament and the Council adopted Directive (EU) 2015/720 amending the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive with regard to reducing the consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags. Member States must take measures, by 26 November 2016 at the latest, to reduce the consumption these bags, including either the setting of a maximum annual consumption level of 90 bags per person by 2019 (and of 40 bags by 2025), or stop retailers giving away free bags altogether by the end of 2018.

The authors analysed the impact of existing measures implemented to reduce plastic carrier bag consumption in different Member States. They considered national legislation, voluntary initiatives and economic measures, and assessed the impact of different measures on levels of plastic bag consumption and littering. The results suggest that there is no obvious pattern to the types of policies that work in different Member States.

Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland and the Netherlands had existing national legislation to reduce the consumption of carrier bags and in 2011/12 consumers in those countries consumed fewer bags than the average. However, in Estonia, Italy, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the UK, consumption was average, and in the Czech Republic and Latvia higher than average, despite national legislation to reduce bag consumption. Some Member States that had average consumption levels had high littering rates, while others had low littering rates.

Read more at: "Science for Environment Policy": European Commission DG Environment News Alert Service.

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