Posted by: The ocean update | April 29, 2015

Now every EU nation joins the battle to banish the bags : European Parliament backs strict new targets to cut plastic carrier use by 80% before 2025

Major concern : Conservationists have fought for years to stop billions of bags ending up as litter, harming the environment and killing marine life

Major concern : Conservationists have fought for years to stop billions of bags ending up as litter, harming the environment and killing marine life

April 29th, 2015 (Ben Spencer).

  • Conservationists have fought to stop billions of bags ending up as litter
  • Mail has campaigned for 5p charge on supermarket carriers in England
  • Most nations will now charge for bags or tax shops giving them for free
  • 28 EU members must reduce disposable plastic bag use by 65% by 2019

Every nation in the EU is to follow Britain’s lead and introduce tough measures to slash the use of plastic bags after a vote yesterday.

The European Parliament backed strict new targets to cut plastic bag use by 80 per cent before 2025 in a huge boost for conservationists.

They have fought for years to stop billions of bags ending up as litter, harming the environment and killing marine life.

The campaign led by the Daily Mail has resulted in a 5p charge on supermarket carrier bags in England to start in October.

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have already introduced the charge, slashing litter as a result. Now the rest of Europe will have to bring in similar measures or face large fines.

Each nation can choose what action to take but most are expected to introduce a charge for bags or tax shops giving them out for free.

The directive orders that the EU’s 28 members reduce disposable plastic bag use by 65 per cent by 2019 and 80 per cent by 2025.

That equates to a drop in the average number of bags used per person each year from 200 to 40.

An estimated 100billion carriers are used every year in Europe, with eight billion ending up as litter. Many blight seas and rivers, where they suffocate countless animals each year.

Recent studies show that plastic pollution hits 395 marine species, including puffins, seals, whales and every type of sea turtle.

The toll includes 67 which are on the international Red List of threatened species.

A recent report suggests that an astonishing five trillion pieces of plastic litter are floating in the world’s oceans.

Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder said: ‘This is a huge step in tackling the plastic waste in Europe’s oceans that kills thousands of marine animals each year.’

But she criticised Tory MEPs who abstained from the vote.

They responded that the directive was poorly drafted and claimed businesses would be burdened by new reporting obligations and labelling rules.

Plastic bags kill marine animals by getting trapped around their heads or when they are swallowed. Sea turtles suffer as they mistake floating or billowing bags for their jellyfish prey.

Latest research suggests that they are vulnerable as they hunt using vision whereas other sea creatures rely on their hearing.

Danish MEP Margrete Auken, who steered the law through parliament, said : ‘This will create a win-win situation.

‘We’re talking about an immense environmental problem. Billions of plastic bags end up in nature. It damages nature, harms fish, birds, and we have to get to grips with this.’

But Left-wing Irish MEP Luke Flanagan warned : ‘If you force member states, they won’t do it right. Leave it up to them.’

Threat : Recent studies show that plastic pollution hits 395 marine species, including puffins, seals, whales and every type of sea turtle

Threat : Recent studies show that plastic pollution hits 395 marine species, including puffins, seals, whales and every type of sea turtle

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