The European Parliament is seeking to put a brake on the proliferation of plastic bags and other non-recyclable plastic waste. It is estimated that every year about eight million plastic bags end up littering the natural environment as each person uses an average of 176 plastic bags per year.
In order to take drastic measures against this major environmental damage, the European Parliament has announced that EU countries would have to reduce the use of plastic carriers by at least 80% by 2019. The draft legislation sets reduction targets of 50% by 2017 and 80% by 2019. Plastic bags used to wrap foods such as fruit, vegetables and confectionery should be replaced by 2019 with carrier bags made of recycled paper or biodegradable and compostable bags. Member countries can impose their own rules in order to limit the use of plastic bags such as taxes, levies, restrictions or bans.
According to Germany’s Deutsche Welle newspaper, discussions with European governments will start after the euro elections in May. “These measures should have been taken long ago,” stated Jutta Haug, a German social democrat MEP. It appears that statistics prove her right as in 2010, about 95.5 billion plastic bags were used within the EU.
As reported by the Greek organization Ecological Recycling Society, one-fifth of the entire waste produced in Greece is plastic, but just 1% of it is recycled. Greece is at least 15 years behind the rest of the EU in almost all areas of recycling and is not meeting EU targets.