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article imageCutting back on plastic bag use to protect the environment

By Tim Sandle     Apr 9, 2015 in Environment
The average citizen in Europe throws away 200 plastic bags per year. Most of these are used only once. For this reason, the European Union is seeking to phase out plastic bags from stores.
Unlike most parts of the U.S., where paper bags (often recyclable) are commonly used to take groceries and other goods away from stores, Europe remains tied to the plastic bag. Many plastic bags are used and many are used simply to transport food home and they are then discarded.
Plastic bags are not only wasteful (in terms of energy), they are difficult to dispose of because they are rarely bio-degradable. Even more concerning, fragments of plastics from such bags can enter streams and end up in the food cycle. Even oxo-biodegradable bags dissolve into micro-particles which can cause potential environmental harm.
According to the BBC, each year 800,000 tonnes of plastic bags are used in the European Union and only 6 percent are recycled.
In light of these risks, the European Union (EU) is seeking to restrict the use of plastic bags. Here it is proposed, through a March 2015 measure, that nation states in the EU select one of two options. Either they can:
EU countries are now required to choose between two approaches to reduce the use of lightweight plastic bags:
Reduce the number of lightweight plastic bags used by each person to 90 bags per person every year by the end of 2019; and to no more than 40 bags per person by 2025.
Put an end to plastic bags being given away for free when buying goods by the end of 2018.
It remains to be seen how quickly these measures will be put into effect and how effective they turn out to be.
In related news, in a reversal of the current trend to ban plastic bags, the state legislature in Arizona has passed a bill that will prohibit local cities and counties from implementing bans on the use of plastic bags. The reason for this new law is due to the burden on small business. The argument is that businesses will need to find more expensive materials for customers to take groceries away with or risk losing customers entirely.
More about Plastic bags, Environment, Waste, Plastic
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