The European Commission is expected to issue a directive designed to help the European Union reduce plastic bag use by up to 80 percent, according to The Guardian.
Janez Potočnik, environment commissioner for the EU, said: "We're taking action to solve a very serious and highly visible environmental problems. Every year, more than 8bn plastic bags end up as litter in Europe, causing enormous environmental damage. Some member states have already achieved great results in reducing their use of plastic bags. If others followed suit we could reduce today's overall consumption in the EU by as much as 80%."
Citing success of countries including Denmark and Ireland in reducing plastic bag use, the Commission will ask EU members to choose and implement a bag tax, bag ban, or reduction target to achieve the desired result.
But some critics say the European Union isn’t going far enough.
Margrete Auken, a Green MEP from Denmark, said: "While a European approach to reducing plastic use is long overdue, the commission is sitting on the fence with today's proposals. The failure to set out clear targets for reducing lightweight plastic bags will clearly undermine the prospect of ensuring a reduction across the EU. Instead, the commission is leaving it open to member states to decide how and to what extent they seek to reduce plastic bag use."
Plastic litter and waste, and one of the most commonly littered items, plastic bags, are clearly taking center stage worldwide as governments come to grips with the resulting environmental and economic costs. Several international, national, state and local reports have called for the banning or drastic reduction of plastic bags.
Achim Steiner, head of the UN Environmental Program, recently said "there is simply zero justification for manufacturing [plastic bags] any more, anywhere."