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European Union reaches deal on plastics bag reduction

European countries will have to introduce plastics bags levies or other reduction measures after Europe’s top bodies reached an “historic” deal on waste prevention legislation.

The European Commission, Council and Parliament agreed on new rules aimed at curbing the amount of single-use carriers across the continent.

Member states will have the options of:

  • a plastic bag reduction target of 90 bags per person per year by 2019 and then 40 bags per person per year by 2025
  • a levy on plastic carriers by 2018
  • banning plastic carrier bags outright

Green MEP Margrete Auken, the European Parliament’s lead negotiator for the legislation, described the agreement as an “historic breakthrough”.

“This marks the first time we have binding measures at EU level to reduce waste,” she said.

MEPs will formally adopt the measures in a vote on Friday.

Auken said the deal was reached “despite brinksmanship from numerous governments”.

The UK is one of the countries that have been accused of opposing mandatory plastic bags reduction measures. But  charges to cut bag use already exist in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland and will be introduced in England in 2015, although small and medium businesses will be exempted.

The EU agreement does not include a ban on oxo-biodegradable plastic bags, a move that was touted during the negotiations.

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