The European Parliament has approved a draft text to push back the use of plastic bags, decreasing its use 50 % by 2017 and even 80 % by 2019. The main target are the lighter bags, as they are more popular but are not reused that often.
Forbid, replace or pay
To limit their use, options are to either ask for a payment to use them or completely forbid them. Fruit and vegetables bags have to be replaced by recycled paper bags or biologically degradable plastic bags by 2019.
Some 100 billion bags are used on a yearly basis in the European Union, 8 billion of those end up in the European seas as waste. On average, European citizens used 198 plastic bags in 2010, 90 % of which were light plastic bags. The biggest problem is in Eastern Europe, where they are still being used in huge numbers.
Belgium performs well
Belgium is performing well in this regard, as supermarkets have actively promoted re-usable bags and make it harder (or more expensive) to use the smaller, light bags. That has helped push back their use considerably these past few years, according to green MEP Bart Staes in an interview with De Morgen.
The Dutch government has asked its retailers to take measures against the use of plastic bags, like most supermarkets already do.