In response to the European Commission’s consultation on reducing the use of plastic bags, Seas At Risk has put full support behind the call for a Europe wide ban on disposable bags and measures to encourage the uptake of sustainably sourced long life alternatives.

In response to the European Commission’s consultation on reducing the use of plastic bags, Seas At Risk has put full support behind the call for a Europe wide ban on disposable bags and measures to encourage the uptake of sustainably sourced long life alternatives.

The European Commission has run an online consultation for the past three months, with the objective of gathering views and additional information on the environmental, social and economic impacts that might result from measures aiming to reduce use of plastic carrier bags, as well as measures to improve the requirements of biodegradability packaging.

Plastic bags have become a menace to the marine environment and are often found during beach clean-ups and marine litter monitoring of European waters. Plastic bags can also harm and kill marine species, particularly turtles who confuse the bags for jellyfish, as food.

Reducing the amount of, and eventually eliminating, all litter items in the marine environment is essential for environmental, social and economic reasons. Under this goal, measures that target each and every marine litter item are needed and a ban on disposable plastic carrier bags is crucial.

Another concern associated with bags in the marine environment is the way they degrade and there are concerns about the adverse effects from the fragmentation of petroleum based and bio based plastic bags into smaller pieces and whether dangerous substances are released to the environment as a consequence of this breakdown.

Huge stress is being put on both the natural environment and waste handling operations due to the huge amounts of waste produced in Europe. On this basis, measures must be taken to reduce the consumption of the sorts of disposable packaging that can easily be replaced by long life sustainably sourced alternatives. Plastic bags are produced in vast quantities, they are a relatively unnecessary form of packaging and they should be banned from circulation as part of an ongoing review and focus on measures that can prevent the build of all litter both on land and in the marine environment.

Photograph by Surfrider Foundation
For the full Seas At Risk response

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