At its meeting on March 14, 2011, the European Commission(EC) was asked by the Austria Delegation to consider measures that would regulate plastic carrier bags in all member countries.
Italy, a member of the European Commission, instituted a ban this year on plastic carrier bags.
The Austria Delegation pointed out that, under the rules of the European Commission, plastic carrier bags are classified as packaging under the current Packaging Directive (whether free of charge or paid for) and are therefore subject to the corresponding national transpositions of the EC Directive. Packaging that complies with the basic requirements of the Directive cannot be banned.
Furthermore, waste management offers no possibilities to treat this kind of packaging differently than packaging consisting of other materials, since the Directive covers packaging of any kind.(1) Under the EC rules, plastic carrier bags are classified as packaging.
The Austria Delegation has asked the European Commission to analyse the following issues on a European level:
• evaluation of existing regulations concerning plastic carrier bags in EU countries;
• possible introduction of mandatory labelling for (biodegradable) plastic carrier bags, with particular reference to mandatory labelling of materials;
• possible alternatives to the use of plastic carrier bags;
• introduction of targeted measures for the avoidance of plastic carrier bags;
• possibility of measures against the distribution of plastic carrier bags free of charge.
The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union. Commissioners are bound to represent the interests of the EU as a whole rather than their home state.(2)
Photo: "Berlaymont Building of European Commission". Credit: J Logan. Licensed under CC by 3.0. Click for License.
(1) European Commission