EUROPE – A levy or even a ban on oil-based plastic shopping bags should be implemented in Europe to help reduce plastic bag consumption, says industry association European Bioplastics.
As the European Commission prepares its proposal on single use plastic bags, European Bioplastics has published a position paper in which it states its support for a levy or taxation on oil-based plastic shopping bags, or even a banning of bags.
The association said that an overall reduction in the consumption of plastic shopping bags would play an important role in increasing resource efficiency and moving Europe towards a more sustainable economy.
Hence, stronger legislation would help curb consumption, said European Bioplastics, but under the following two conditions: shopping bags containing at least 50% biobased content should be exempted from the ban or tax in all countries; compostable shopping bags compliant to EN 13432 containing at least 50% biobased content should be exempted from the ban or tax in countries where organic waste is recovered and organically recycled.
According to European Bioplastics, such conditions should be in place as plastic shopping bags with a high biobased content ensure a considerably lower carbon footprint than oil-based bags and help to reduce CO2 emissions, while compostable plastic shopping bags offer a secondary use as biowaste bags and help to increase the amount of biowaste collected and improve the quality of compost in countries where organic waste collection is in place.
In addition, in countries where plastic waste is recovered for recycling, the bioplastic shopping bags can be mechanically recycled into new plastic products. In countries where waste is incinerated, the biobased content contributes to the generation of renewable energy, said the association.
Even in landfill, European Bioplastics said the biobased content of bioplastic shopping bags helps to ‘sequester’ CO2.
In its position paper, European Bioplastics stressed, “Littering is not a product problem intrinsic to shopping bags. It is caused by careless disposal behaviour on the part of the consumer and poor waste management in some areas.
“Bioplastics producers, retailers and brand owners should not advertise renewability, biodegradability and compostability of bioplastics bags as a solution to littering.”