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EU moves closer to reducing use of plastic bags

Updated: 04 23 , 2014 15:19
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BRUSSELS -- The European Union (EU) on Tuesday moved a step closer to its aim of an 80 percent reduction in the use of lightweight plastic bags in Europe.

The European Parliament passed an European Commission proposal requesting member states to reduce their use of lightweight plastic carrier bags, by choosing the measures they find most appropriate, including charges, national reduction targets or a ban under certain conditions.

According to EU statistics, more than 8 billion plastic bags end up as litter in Europe every year, causing enormous environmental damage. Some member states have already achieved great results in terms of reducing their use of plastic bags.

The European Commissioner for Environment Janez Potocnik on Tuesday called on the new European Parliament after the upcoming elections to try to push for rapid adoption of the initiative.

"The huge and growing consumption rates of plastic bags -- 100 billion bags per year in the EU alone -- demonstrates a reckless waste of resources. Plastic bags are a symbol of our throw-away society and unsustainable lifestyles," said Potocnik in a statement.

"We use them for a few minutes, but their legacy lasts for hundreds of years, often as harmful microscopic particles that are damaging the environment worldwide, especially the marine environment. In the North Sea, the stomachs of 94 percent of all birds contain plastic," he added.

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