May 24 - EU Considers Ban on Plastic Bags

The European Union is contemplating options for substantially reducing plastic bag litter and waste, including an outright ban.

According to the EU's Environmental Commission, Europe produced 3.4 million tons of plastic bags in 2008 -- the equivalent in weight of two million cars.

The bags often end up in the sea, taking hundreds of years to decompose, it said. Some 250 billion plastic particles weighing a total 500 tons litter the Mediterranean, threatening sea life which can suffocate eating them.

"We are considering all possibilities including a ban in the European Union," said Janez Potocnik last Wednesday at the launch of a public consultation to test how Europeans feel about the problem.

Read more in an article here.

California and others continue to contemplate Ban

A dozen California cities and counties have already banned plastic bags (with six of these ordinances passed or adopted this year) and dozens more are looking to take up the policy later this year.

Last September, a statewide ban fell just a few votes short of passage, and could be reconsidered at any time.

Californians use 12 billion plastic bags every year. That's almost 400 bags per second.

Elsewhere in the country, plastic bag bans are also being considered. Oregon's SB 536 could possibly become the first statewide bill banning single-use plastic bags. It recently passed out of a policy committee and is short just a few votes from passing the floor.

Plastic bags are a primary source of litter because they are light and aerodynamic and are easily transported by wind into the watershed. Once littered, plastic bags essentially never biodegrade. Instead the sun breaks them into small pieces that choke and kill sensitive marine species such as turtles and birds.

CAW’s efforts against plastic bags can be found by visiting our website. Please support our work on plastic pollution prevention and make a tax-deductible donation today.