European Bioplastics sees opportunity in EU thin plastic bags move

04 November 2013 15:13  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--The European Commission's proposal to reduce consumption of thin plastic bags presents an important opportunity to promote bioplastic alternatives, the European Bioplastics trade association said on Monday.

“Today’s proposal of the European Commission aiming to reduce the consumption of plastic carrier bags in the EU is an important first step in the direction of a more sustainable economy," said Francois de Bie, chairman of European Bioplastics.

He added: “Under this directive, the Italian plastic bag law would be finally validated. This law banned fossil-based lightweight plastic carrier bags, and allows only single-use bags that are compostable according to EN 13432 to be utilised.”

European Bioplastics supports the exemption of bio-based, non-biodegradable shopping bags, that contain at least 50% bio-based content, from restrictive market regulations.

European Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik is encouraging the 28 EU member states to tax or even ban lightweight single-use plastic bags handed out in shops in a bid to address the tonnes of plastic waste that can survive for centuries after having accumulated in the environment.

“Plastic bags are a symbol of our throwaway society; they are made of a material that lasts for hundred of years, yet we only use them for a few minutes,” Potocnik said at a press conference in Brussels. 

Every year, almost 100bn plastic bags are used in the EU, with approximately 90% of these lightweight bags that are far less likely to be reused than thicker bags, the commissioner said.

“In fact, more than eight billion plastic bags end up as litter in Europe every year causing enormous environmental damage particularly to fish and birds that end up swallowing particles of plastic,” he added.

Some member states have already achieved great results in cutting use of plastic bags and if others followed the European Union could reduce its consumption of plastic bags by as much as 80%, Potocnik said.

All of Potocnik's proposals must be approved by the European Parliament and EU member states to take effect.

By: Will Conroy
+44 20 8652 3214

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