After several member states had already implemented legislation to lower the use of plastic bags, the European Union is now considering an overall plastic bag tax.
Chinese import ban
It is not yet entirely clear on how this new tax will work. The manufacturers may have to pay it, but it is also possible that the consumer will have to pay every time he uses a plastic bag. “We want to lower the total volume of plastic in the environment”, European Günther Öttinger said according to De Standaard. “That is why we want to enable member states to create a tax and to motivate companies and citizens to use fewer plastic bags and packages.”
It is no surprise the proposal surfaces now that China implemented an import ban on plastic waste on 1 January. A lot of European plastic used to end up in China, but the import ban will lead to more plastic burning, because Europe does not have the capacity to recycle everything. “Now that China no longer wants our plastic waste, we need to make sure we can limit the European use of plastic”, Öttinger said.
Several European member states have been working on ways to limit plastic use for a while. Scandinavia, the Netherlands, France (and Wallonia and Brussels) have already implemented a ban on non-reusable bags. Similar legislation is being prepared in Flanders, but it has not been implemented just yet.