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UK accused of failing to embrace targets for cutting plastic carrier bags

A group of environmental campaigners has warned some EU countries, including the UK, not to continue blocking specific targets to cut the use of plastic carrier bags. 

In March, the European Parliament called on member states to halve the use of such bags by 2017 and to cut it by 80% by 2019. 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.

But the European Council, made up of ministers from member states, has not agreed to the MEPs’ proposals for specific targets.

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB), a federation of environmental organisations, is calling for agreement at negotiations between the EU institutions due on 14 November. The EEB says continuing disagreement risks the proposal being discarded altogether.

Policy officer Piotr Barczak said: “This basically amounts to a failure to respect either the environment or public opinion.

“Despite strong backing across political groups in the Parliament for the proposal and massive popular support for reductions, the UK and some other countries in the council persist in showing a complete disregard for the awful environmental consequences of pollution from plastic bags.”

A Government spokesperson said: “We are determined to tackle the blight caused by discarded plastic bags, which is why we are introducing a 5p bag charge in England from October 2015.

“We are interested in the European Commission’s proposals and are engaging constructively with the Commission.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • Piotr Barczak should think again about his latest comment. Perhaps the reason why the UK and some other countries 'fail to respect the environment or public opinion' is because the real general public actually appreciate the convenience of plastic bags and may be justifiably skeptical about the so called benefits to the environment through bag reductions. Such skepticism would be well founded given that alternatives have a greater environmental impact. Furthermore, the same general public are probably fed up to the back teeth of conforming with more and more European rules which impact on our daily lives, which as far as can be seen so far bring dubious benefits and more often than not wreak havoc through unintended consequences.

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