Plastic bags are pretty deplorable by any environmental measure. I have to hold my tongue every time I go to the grocery store because in my native South Carolina, the bags are still handed out a few at a time.
In terms of consumption and pollution, they’re the symbol of what we’re doing wrong–made from oil, clogging up waterways and oceans, and choking turtles, birds and all sorts of sea creatures along the way. Yet, the U.S. has been slow to act. Maybe now we can take some cues from the European Union.
The EU is aiming to reduce use of plastic bags by 80 percent in the next decade. EU governments have unanimously approved the plan though bag use varies widely across the continent. In Denmark, for example, people use an average of four plastic bags per year but in Portugal they use about 100 times more. The plan was downgraded from an outright ban to appease the U.K.
According to The Guardian:
Under the new proposal, EU states can opt for mandatory pricing of bags by 2019, or binding targets to reduce the number of plastic bags used annually per person from 191 now to 90 by 2019 and 40 in 2025. Measures such as bag taxes could also be considered as equivalent.
“The significance of this package is enormous,” the Dutch Liberal MEP Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy told the Guardian. “It is a huge victory for not only the European environment but also globally as most of these single-use bags end up in the world’s oceans and are one of the big causes of the ‘plastic soup’ phenomenon.”
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Image : Michael Coghlan