Brussels, Belgium, December 17, 2014 - Meeting in Brussels today, the Council of the European Union reached a political agreement on a draft directive to reduce the consumption of lightweight plastic bags.
In a new set of rules, the Council intends to limit the negative environmental impact of litter from plastic carrier bags. Plastic carrier bags have been increasingly recognised as a significant global environmental challenge.
Plastic bags continue to accumulate in the environment, particularly in aquatic eco-systems and bodies of water. The Council believes that by encouraging waste prevention and a more efficient use of resources that plastic bag litter can be reduced.
The new rules target plastic bags with a wall thickness below 50 microns. The majority of plastic bags consumed in the EU are below 50 microns. These bags are also less likely to be reused or recycled.
The new EU law requires governments to choose one of two options:
- place a charge on single-use lightweight plastic bags by the end of 2018, or
- take measures to reduce their use.
If the latter is chosen, the annual use of these bags must be reduced to an average of 90 per person by the end of 2019 and to 40 bags per person by the end of 2025. These usages are compared to a benchmark of 176 bags per person usage in 2010.