Countries set deadline of 2025 to meet target through charges or bans
All EU countries will have to cut the use of throwaway ‘plastic poison’ carrier bags by 80 per cent following a vote yesterday.
The decision represents a victory for Daily Mail readers and the ‘Banish the Bags’ campaign, which launched in February 2008 with the backing of groups from the National Trust to the Campaign to Protect Rural England.
Member states have set the 28 countries of the EU a deadline of 2025 to meet the target which can be achieved through the introduction of bans or charges.
The UK is already on course to meet this target following decisions by the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which have already have a system of charges.
England is set to follow suit with a 5p levy on the plastic bags in October after supermarkets failed to meet pledges to reduce bag numbers through voluntary schemes.
All profits from the charges in England will go to good causes, which will include a raft of green clean-up groups, tackling green spaces, rivers and beaches, as well as other charities.
Similar charging schemes in Ireland have led to a reduction of around 90per cent in the distribution of the flimsy bags, which have become a blight on streets and parks.
Volunteers at the Marine Conservation Society have been working tirelessly to clean beaches and protect sea life such as turtles, which are known to eat the bags because they mistake them for jellyfish.
Pollution and litter expert at the MCS, Dr Sue Kinsey, welcomed the EU vote, as a ‘useful first step’ in the reduction in single use plastic bags.
However, she said an original plan for mandatory charges throughout the EU had been watered down with a decision to leave it up to each member state on how to achieve the promised 80per cent reduction.
Bizarrely, the UK government was among those that opposed the idea of a mandatory charge across all EU states.
The MCS is also concerned that the bag charge scheme for England will not be as effective as those in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. This is because it carries various exemptions, including a decision not to apply the 5p fee in small shops.
An estimated 100 billion carrier bags are used every year in Europe – with 8 billion ending up as litter. Many of those end up in seas and rivers, killing millions of marine animals.
Wales was the first home nation to introduce a 5p charge four years ago. Since then it is estimated that the number of bags issued at the tills is down by more than 75per cent.
The decision represents a victory for Daily Mail readers and the ‘Banish the Bags’ campaign, which launched in February 2008 ith the backing of groups from the National Trust to the Campaign to Protect Rural England
There, families have found no significant problems in switching to re-usable bags and baskets for their shopping.
Some other EU nations already have controls in place. Italy has a ban and Spain will introduce one in 2018, while there are levies in the Czech Republic and Malta.
A number of countries have taxes on shops which give out free bags, including Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Hungary, Latvia, Netherlands, Romania, and Slovenia.
The Danish Green MEP Margrete Auken, who pushed the legislation through the European parliament, called the approval ‘a historic breakthrough in tackling the pervasive problem of plastic waste’.
By Sean Poulter from The Daily Mail on Mar. 2, 2015.