Plastics Recycling Update

Europe to limit plastic bag usage

The EU’s European Parliament has introduced a widespread directive requiring member countries to find ways to cut down on plastic bag usage.

According to an agreement reached by the European Parliament (EP) on April 28, member countries can either limit each citizen to 90 plastic bags per year by 2019, and 40 by 2025, or start charging for them by 2018.

“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,” Margrete Auken from Denmark stated in the announcement. Auken has been a noted supporter of limits on plastic bag usage in the EU.

A video produced by EP states approximately 100 billion plastic bags are used throughout Europe each year with per capita usage at 198. According to the EP, approximately 8 percent of those bags “end up in lakes and rivers or in the countryside and on roads.” The EP also suggests 94 percent of birds native to the North Sea “have plastic in their stomachs.”

In addition, the agreement calls on members “to assess the impact on the environment of oxo-degradable plastic materials … and propose suitable measures.” The oxo-degradable issue has been particularly controversial in Europe, where groups and politicians have questioned claims of degradability.

Members have until 2017 to propose standardized “labeling and marking measures” on bags marketed as compostable or degradable.

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