The bag that is compliant
The member states of the European Union prefer bags that do not harm the environment: The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union have enacted Directive (EU) 2015/720 of 29 April 2015, which amends Directive 94/62/EC as regards reducing the consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags. The aim of this new legislation is to reduce plastic waste in our environment.
Reducing plastic waste
Littering of plastic carrier bags leads to a widespread problem of rubbish in water bodies, threatening aquatic ecosystems worldwide. Furthermore, littering of plastic carrier bags is an inefficient use of resources. More facts and figures on the effects of plastic waste have been put together by the European Commission. In order to promote a sustained reduction in the average consumption level of lightweight plastic carrier bags, EU member states may take measures such as pricing, the use of taxes and fees or restrictions on placing such bags in the market.
However, it is mandatory for all EU member states to include at least one of the following:
a) The adoption of measures ensuring that the annual consumption level does not exceed
- 90 lightweight plastic carrier bags per person by 31 December 2019
- 40 lightweight plastic carrier bags per person by 31 December 2025
- or equivalent targets set in weight
- very lightweight plastic carrier bags may be excluded from national consumption objectives.
b) The adoption of instruments ensuring that, by 31 December 2018, lightweight plastic carrier bags are not provided free of charge at the point of sale of goods or products, unless equally effective instruments are implemented. Very lightweight plastic carrier bags may be excluded from those measures.
For more information on the regulations in the EU member states go to Regulations in the EU.
After addressing plastic bags in 2015 with the new directive, the European Commission introduced a comprehensive Plastics Strategy in 2018. Within this framework, the European Parliament and the European Council adopted the Directive (EU) 2019/904 of 5 June 2019 on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment. The so-called Single-use Plastics Directive is set to ban the ten most-found plastic waste items that are found on Europe’s beaches, among them plastic cutlery, plates and straws. Lightweight plastic carrier bags fall under extended producer responsibility. The directive states that producers must contribute to raising awareness and the clean-up, collection and waste treatment of lightweight plastic carrier bags.