Still finding excuses? Time for Europe to act against plastic bag pollution

In April 2015, a European directive was adopted to reduce the consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags in Europe. The Directive 2015/270 requires Member States of the European Union (EU) to drastically reduce their annual consumption of plastic bags to 90 bags per person per year by 31 December 2019 and 40 bags by 31 December 2025.
On average, a European uses 175 single-use plastic bags per year. Since they have been first used in the 1970s, single-use plastic bags have become a product of our everyday life. Their exponential growth generated numerous adverse effects on the environment, representing in particular a major source of pollution of the marine environment. Plastic bags also have negative effects at the socio-economic level and potentially on
human health, once in the food chain. Lightweight plastic bags are often only used once, for a few minutes, whereas it takes between one and four centuries for them to degrade in the natural environment. Particularly harmful to the environment, they are relatively unnecessary items that could easily be replaced by long life alternatives.
The Plastic bags directive called for the responsibility of Member States to transpose the law and put measures into legislation to achieve these modest but vital objectives by the 27th of November 2016.
On this International Plastic Bag Free Day, more than eighteen months after the Directive’s transposition deadline, the results fall short of expectations in many Member States.

The moment we break free from plastic

Artists have created enormous etchings on beaches across Europe during April to protest against plastic pollution.

Tagged with the #BreakFreeFromPlastic movement hashtag, the works come in the run-up to Earth Day, 22 April, this year themed “end plastic pollution”. They were commissioned by the European Environmental Bureau and backed by national members in France, Spain, Portugal, the UK and Germany.

Project lead by Rethink Plastic member the European Environmental Bureau