Brussels — Despite strong popular support across the EU for reducing plastic waste, a group of EU countries is blocking a European Parliament proposal that would drastically cut the use of plastic carrier bags, according to European Environmental Bureau, Surfrider Foundation Europe, Fundació Prevenció de Residus i Consum and Bag Free World.
The European Parliament is proposing an 80 per cent reduction target in plastic bag use by 2019 and a requirement for shops to charge customers for plastic bags. The savings and profits for public authorities, manufacturers and retailers could amount to as much as €650 million per year between 2015 and 2020. Despite evidence from Ireland showing that charging for plastic bags is highly successful, the Council continues to argue that such decisions should be left up to national governments.
The deadlock in negotiations between the EU Council of Ministers and the European Parliament is due to the UK and some of the newer EU Member States refusing to adopt any of the progressive proposals tabled by the European Parliament. The UK has even won over support from other Member States to prevent a ban on oxo-degradable plastics. This is a type of plastic which is neither recyclable nor compostable and which the association of plastics manufacturers says has almost no biodegradation results.
If the final three-way negotiations between the EU institutions on Friday 14 November did not produce an agreement, the proposal will have to return to the drawing board and risks being discarded altogether.
Piotr Barczak, the European Environmental Bureau’s Policy Officer on Waste, said: “This basically amounts to a failure to respect either the environment or public opinion. In spite of 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.”
Source: European Environmental Bureau