Ahead of the final approval by EU governments tomorrow, Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament welcomed the compromise negotiated between Council and Parliament on Monday. Member states now have the choice between the introduction of a charge or equally effective measures by the end of 2018, or measures which will reduce the per capita consumption of single use plastic bags from 176 in 2010, to 90 in 2019 and 40 by 2025.
S&D vice-president Kathleen Van Brempt said:
“There were doubts that the Commission would support the agreement, but we are happy that it decided to give its backing. The sooner we start reducing the use of these highly polluting bags the better. And member states still have time to decide the best way to implement measures.
“Over 8 billion plastic carrier bags are littered in the EU every year, with the sea being the main victim. There needs to be a change of mindset in society, so that consumers bring along their own reusable bags to do their shopping."
S&D spokesperson on health and environment, MEP Matthias Groote, said:
"According to the Eurobarometer, 92% of EU citizens want to see measures taken to curb the use of plastic bags. Therefore, the Commission’s initial hesitation was disconcerting and hopefully only reflected a small group of dissenting voices. However, I am pleased that it acknowledged the important environmental implications of the compromise at the last minute."
"Today, the number of plastic particles in the oceans is greater than the amount of plankton. This does not only have severe consequences for marine life, but also endangers our health through the food chain. Effective measures were therefore much needed.
"I hope that the new European Commission changes its sceptical attitude towards the circular economy and clean air packages. Both Parliament and Council have been intensively working on these proposals in order to draft concrete legislation. Withdrawal of the proposals would have disastrous consequences, not only for the environment but also for the health of European citizens."
S&D MEP Simona Bonafè, who is the parliamentary author on the waste package, said :
“’For the first time in the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive we establish a specific quantitative measure on prevention, to avoid unnecessary and damaging use of plastic bags. Until now there were only recycling targets, and the inclusion of a prevention target is a big step.
“The new approach introduced in this directive which addresses plastic bags will also help to improve the more comprehensive waste review under way: amending directives on landfill of waste, end-of-life vehicles, batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators and on waste electrical and electronic equipment.
"We will implement a series of measures to improve the management of resources throughout their entire lifecycle. The final aim is to shift Europe from a linear towards a circular economy."