On 24th November 2014 the European Union adopted a legislative proposal amending the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD) that addresses the challenge of conventional single use plastic carrier bags consumption, and explicitly sanctions the actions of several member states that have already recognized the benefits of compostable bags.
The number of lightweight plastic bags will be limited to 90 per person per year by the end of 2019, representing a reduction of 50% from current use. This number will be further reduced to 40 per person by the end of 2025. Average consumption of single-use plastic bags was 176 bags per person in 2010. Alternatively, member states may choose to ensure that, by 2018, these bags are not handed out to shoppers free of charge.
"This is crucial, because it retroactively legalizes national legislation of Member States like Italy and France. Both states have recognized the benefits that are achievable with biodegradable and compostable shopping bags,” said François de Bie, Chairman of European Bioplastics. “These countries are pioneers in putting the decisive ecological advantages of such bags to good use. This means enhancing the separate collection of biowaste and thereby diverting it from landfill.” In this context, European Bioplastics also highly appreciates the endorsement of the EN13432 as the standard to certify biodegradation and the initiative to further improve biodegradability and compostability labelling for plastic carrier bags.
The European Commission also required to present a report to the European Parliament examining the impact of the use of oxo-degradable bags on the environment.
The Member of the European Parliament Margrete Auken (Greens/EFA, DK), who is steering the legislation, explained: “these plastic bags worsen the litter problem by fragmenting into micro-plastics polluting the environment and hindering composting and recycling”. PlasticsEurope , the trade association representing the European plastics industry, would support a regulation on the use of so-called "oxo-degradable” plastics in Europe since independent studies have shown that the fragmentation process is often inadequate and that the chemicals used are detrimental to the recycling process. The review of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive will offer the opportunity to regulate such products.