While various cities in the United States ponder the fate of single-use disposable bags in their individual communities, the 27 countries of the European Union are taking the plunge by inviting input from every citizen of its’ member-countries . The general question at hand: Given the detrimental effect of single-use use plastic carrier bags, should there be mandatory action taken by the European Commission?
Pollution of the Mediterranean Sea, as well as ingestion of plastic by sea creatures are some of the consequences of single-use bags getting into the waste stream, according to a Press Release issued by the European Union Environmental Commissioner. The Commissioner, Janex Potocnik went on to say: “Fifty years ago, the single-use plastic bag was almost unheard of – now we use them for a few minutes and they pollute our environment for decades. But social attitudes are evolving and there is a widespread desire for change. That’s why we are looking at all the options, including a Europe-wide ban on plastic carrier bags. We need the views of as many people as possible to complement our scientific analyses and help drive policy on this issue, which is suffocating our environment.” Currently, there are single-use disposable plastic bag bans in various cities across Europe. Italy and France already have enacted country-wide bag bans, independent of the European Union.
In an on-line survey, citizens are invited to vote on whether there should be mandatory restrictions on usage, voluntary reduction efforts, or fees. Other questions included in the survey are whether citizens think the effort should encompass the entire 27 country European Union, or whether the decision should be left to an individual country’s population. Voters are also asked their opinions on whether single-use carrier bags should have mandatory labeling for a consumer to determine if a bag is biodegradable.
The “public consultation” is open until August and results will be reviewed by the Environment Department of the European Commission.