Europe may ban plastic bags

May 18, 2011
A man holds a plastic bag in central Rome in 2010. With each European using 500 plastic bags per year, and tonnes of plastic littering the Mediterranean, the European Commission may ban them from stores or tax them to combat pollution.

With each European using 500 plastic bags per year, and tonnes of plastic littering the Mediterranean, the European Commission may ban them from stores or tax them to combat pollution.

Europe produced 3.4 million tonnes of plastic carrier bags in 2008 -- the equivalent in weight of two million cars, according to the European Union's executive arm.

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 tonnes litter the Mediterranean, threatening sea life which can suffocate eating them.

In some EU states, are banned from stores or consumers must pay for them in supermarket lines, but there is no EU-wide regulation.

The launched on Wednesday a public consultation which will run until August to decide the best course of action to reduce the use of plastic bags.

"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," said European environment commissioner Janez Potocnik.

"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 on carrier bags," Potocnik said.

The EU executive said it also wants to gather opinions on increasing the visibility of biodegradable packaging products and boosting the biodegradability requirements for packaging.

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hush1
1 / 5 (2) May 18, 2011
If there is "no EU-wide regulation", then I must force the whole world to use biodegradable plastics.

God.

Since you all have the ability to manipulate the rate at which biodegradable plastics degrades, I see no need for the second coming.

Your welcome.
eachus
5 / 5 (2) May 18, 2011
Stupid. A ban may make some bureaucrats feel good, but it won't solve anything. Programs to recycle plastic bags, or to mark sufficiently biodegradable bags as green will get the polluting bags out of circulation faster.

If you ever wonder why packaging today is so hard to open, it is evolution in action. The purchasing agent who buys the packaging knows who will get yelled at or fired if the packaging fails. So for decades "smart" packaging companies have known that the way to the purchasing agent's heart is to provide a new packaging material that is lighter, less expensive, and more tear resistant. So today it is common to get packages which are almost impossible to open with scissors. (You know the ones. The packages designed to be hung on hooks to display. Typical tear ratings are in hundreds of pounds or kilos--a lot more than any retail display hook can handle.)

But if you get customers to demand "green" packaging, that is what purchasing agents will buy.
spectator
5 / 5 (1) May 19, 2011
It would be far more useful to ban PET water and soda bottles, or else pass a law to fine people who throw them away instead of recycling or reusing them.

It's ridiculous that we even recycle, nevermind throw away, a space age bottle after one use anyway. You'd think a product with a 500 year life expectancy would get used for at least a few years before it got tossed, not just one day...

Anyway, 1 PET water bottle is more massive than a plastic grocery bag, and probably exists in the environment for much longer before it breaks down, particularly since it is transparent and has no pigment to help absorb radiation to break it down...

But it's true both plastic bags and disposable plastic bottles are stupid inventions which are consuming valuable petroleum resources which are required for medical plastic resources. When oil runs out in 200 years or so, the medical industry will be screwed.
Eikka
not rated yet May 19, 2011
Tell me what is this "single use" plastic bag?

When I go to the supermarket, I buy a plastic bag to carry the stuff home. At home, I use the bag to put my waste in, and then put it in the collection bin. The smaller plastic bags I use for makeshift gloves when handling fish or something dirty, or wrap them around food items to put them in the freezer. When I go hiking I put my stuff inside a plastic bag so if I fall in a river my spare clothes remain dry. On a rainy day I put a plastic bag on my bicycle seat. When I paint something, I protect the surrounding area with plastic bags and tape because it doesn't leak through like newspaper does. My granny used to cut them to strips and make carpets out of them - very rugged and handy for outdoors use.

I never just throw away a plastic bag, because they're very very useful.
Eikka
not rated yet May 19, 2011

It's ridiculous that we even recycle, nevermind throw away, a space age bottle after one use anyway. You'd think a product with a 500 year life expectancy would get used for at least a few years before it got tossed, not just one day...


We have to, because they are literally single use. You can't wash the bottles because they shrink in hot water. They're blow-molded and tend to return to their original shape when subjected to heat.

The earlier reusable PET bottles used ten times the materials and still they could be washed only for 10-15 times before they'd no longer hold their nominal amount of liquid. Customers would complain of scratched and "dirty looking" bottles.

It doesn't really matter if you can use the bottle 1 or 10 times, because at some point you have to replace it, and the infrastructure to wash and reuse the bottles easily consumes about as much energy as you save by doing so.

Think about it. A truck can carry 10 times more bottles if you crush them to bits
Eikka
not rated yet May 19, 2011
Of course you could wash the bottles in cold or warm water, but then you'd have to use toxic chemicals to ensure that the bottles are sterile for re-use, and those chemicals usually stick to the plastic.

88HUX88
5 / 5 (1) May 19, 2011
Say no to plastic bags at the local shop / supermarket and drink tap water.
spectator
not rated yet May 19, 2011
Eikka:

I used to work in a blow molding production facility. I'm aware of how bottles are made.
Eikka
not rated yet May 19, 2011
Say no to plastic bags at the local shop / supermarket and drink tap water.


If I didn't buy my plastic bags at the supermarket, I would simply buy my trash bags in a roll.

What would you suggest as an alternative?

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