The Carrier Bag Consortium (CBC) has hit out at the Italian government’s ban on shopkeepers handing out plastic bags after their current stocks run out.
The UK lobby group claims the move contravenes EU law, will lead to greater environmental impacts as people switch to heavier alternatives, and by giving preference to degradable bags, will hit plastic recycling rates and increase greenhouse gas emissions.
“We fully support our European partners at EUPC in mounting a legal challenge to the Italian moves at EU level. It is a great shame that the Italian Government did not take heed of more than two years of investigations by the Scottish Parliament when they were placed under similar well-intended but wholly misguided environmental pressures,” said CBC chairman Paul Marmot.
“The science shows that the conventional lightweight plastic bag is so efficient that replacing it with heavier or degradable alternatives not only means more transportation and storage impacts but also risks increased greenhouse gas pollution as these alternatives eventually degrade. It makes more sense to keep on using conventional plastic bags and then return them for recycling at the end of their life,” he added.
The Packaging and Films Association (Pafa) joined in condemning the Italian ban. “There are serious flaws in the arguments used against plastic bags and, with no scientific support for such moves, the unwarranted attacks on the plastics industry clearly contravene EU law,” said Pafa chief executive, Barry Turner.
“In all of our work, including the defeat of a Scottish Parliament Bill, we have come across no evidence anywhere in the world that bans or charges for plastic bags will guarantee a fall in overall environmental impacts.
“By adopting a voluntary deal in the UK there has been a number of positive trends: Consumers have been encouraged to reuse carrier bags and use has dropped by 50% - up to 70% in some cases; consumers are now encouraged to recycle at front of store within significant increase in recycling points in store for carrier bags; and retailers have revised their bag specifications to ensure resource minimisation and in some cases increase recycled content,” continued Turner.
“All this has been achieved without penalties and all within the waste framework directive - according to the principles of reduce, reuse and recycle.”
CBC supports legal challenge to ‘flawed’ Italian bag ban