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Next EU Parliament to take up work on plastics bags

European Union draft proposals to reduce the use of plastics bags are set to be taken forward by the next legislature after being approved at first reading by the EU Parliament.

On 16 April, a majority of MEPs backed a report on plastics waste produced by Danish Green MEP Margrete Auken.

The report, which had received the approval of the Environment Committee in March, includes the target for member states to halve the use of plastics bags thinner than 50 microns by 2017, on a 2010 baseline. The target would increase to 80% by 2019.

The report recommends the use of taxes, levies, marketing restrictions or bans to stop shops from giving out plastic bags for free, except for very light ones, used to wrap loose foods such as raw meat, fish and dairy products.

Those bags would need to be replaced by carrier bags made of recycled paper or biodegradable and compostable bags by 2019.

Auken’s report said member states should also set up separate collection for biowaste, including bio-based compostable carrier bags.

The vote at first reading has ensured that the proposals can be taken forward by the next Parliament.

EU elections will take place between 22 and 25 May 2014.

François de Bie, chairman at European Bioplastics:

“We are very glad that the European Parliament recognises the value compostable carrier bags can provide to enhance a separate biowaste collection across Europe.

Switching from lightweight single-use fossil-based carrier bags to EN 13432 certified compostable dual-use shopping bags helps to divert biowaste from landfill.”

Karl-H. Foerster, executive director at PlasticsEurope:

“A ban on plastics bags is not the solution to tackle the problem of irresponsible disposal. The Parliament’s plan leads to a situation in which some countries ban plastic bags, while others allow them.

To effectively protect our environment, it would have been far better to focus on the implementation of existing EU waste legislation, in particular in those countries with no proper waste management.”

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