Credit: Mirko Isaia / Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
The European Commission has given the green light to an agreement on plastic bags, as confirmed by Frans Timmermans, Vice-President of the European Commission, who reminded also the Council’s full support to the initiative.
Gianluca Galletti, Italian Environment Minister, welcomed the progress made and said, via his Twitter account, that the agreement marks a “ great day for the environment”.
After the withdrawal of some objections by the European Commission, the EU can now move forward to the introduction of rules curbing the use of non-biodegradable plastic bags. The use of such bags had already been limited by some member states, including Italy; however, the lack of a European regulation on such matter made the national actions less effective. The new EU initiative will channel the European effort, requiring all member states to play their part. They are expected to adopt measures to reduce the consumption of plastic bags with a thickness lower than 50 microns (0.05 millimetres), also by putting in place economic instruments or limitations to their commercialization.
Member states will have to choose between two options: the national reduction objective (not exceeding the average consumption per capita of 90 plastic bags per year by the end of 2019 and of 40 plastic bags by the end of 2025) or a common charging mechanism for plastic bags whose thickness is lower that 50 microns.
The first step towards a final agreement will be made on 21 November, when Coreper will confirm the agreement and the transmission of the letter to the European Parliament for the finalisation of the adoption procedures.