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Press Release: International Bag Free Day – New EU Directive paves the way for a Europe without plastic bags

Press release: International Bagless Day-The new EU directive paves the way for Europe without plastic bags

The 6th International Day without Plastic Bags allowed groups from all over the world to organize events to raise awareness of the environmental impact of disposable plastic bags, and to request the government to take action to stop marine litter.

International Bagless Day: New EU directive paves the way for Europe to be free of plastic bags

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Brussels, July 3, 2015-On the International Day without Plastic Bags, a coalition of environmental and waste prevention organizations [1] urges EU member states to take measures against environmentally destructive single-use plastic bags in accordance with the new EU directives .

Every year, EU citizens use an average of about 500 plastic bags [2], of which 92.5% are disposable plastic bags. In 2010, the EU used approximately 90 billion disposable plastic bags [3]. Plastic bags account for about 40% of all marine debris in British waters and the North Sea [4]. A 2009 study showed that more than 90% of the waste found on the seabed in the Bay of Biscay is plastic [5]. These petroleum-based products contain toxic additives, such as endocrine disruptors and carcinogens, which can migrate into the marine environment and enter the food chain through marine animals.

European citizens think it's time to take action. A survey conducted by the European Commission in 2014 found that 92% of respondents agreed that measures should be taken to reduce the use of disposable plastic items such as shopping bags [6].

EU institutions have recently made progress in resolving this issue. In May, a new European Directive 2015/720/UE to reduce the consumption of lightweight plastic handbags came into effect. The directive requires member states to reduce the use of plastic handbags with a thickness of less than 50 microns by any of the following methods:

– Take measures to reduce the average annual consumption of lightweight plastic handbags to 90 per person by the end of 2019, and to 40 by 2025;

– Or ensure that by the end of 2018, no free light plastic tote bags will be provided to shoppers.

Member states have an 18-month period to transform it into national law.

However, the law allows oxidative degradation bags to continue to be used in Europe, despite their catastrophic impact on the marine environment, where they degrade into small pieces of plastic that cannot be removed from the environment.

Joan-Marc Simon from Zero Waste Europe said: “Plastic pollution is a global problem waiting for a global solution. As an international participant, the EU should lead by example and should not lag behind other countries in reducing the use of single-use plastic bags. The EU now has a goal to reduce the use of plastic bags, and we call on member states to take the necessary measures to achieve this goal."

Marta Beltran of Fundació Prevenció de Residus said: “Our society cannot afford the waste of resources and the environmental, social and economic impacts of plastic bags, including oxidatively degradable bags that must avoid impacts on the nutrition chain. We want zero plastic every day. Bag; it’s time to use reusable things."

Meadhbh Bolger from Friends of the Earth Europe said: "Disposable plastic bags are an iconic example of how Europe has fallen into a linear economy, relying on the continuous extraction of scarce raw resources to produce disposable products. EU policymakers need to ensure a new circular economy package. The plan ensures that we keep resources in the economy for as long as possible, and reducing consumption, reuse and recycling is the norm across the European continent."

Antidia Citores from the European Surfers Foundation said: “29 European cities have pledged to ban the use of single-use plastic bags in our'No Plastic Bag Campaign'. The recently passed European Directive now provides EU member states with a legal prohibition once The possibility of plastic bags. We now call on member states, cities and citizens to participate in our campaign and say no to disposable plastic bags that have such a strong impact on the marine environment."

Piotr Barczak of the European Environment Agency said: “The case of unnecessary plastic bags clearly shows that improving environmental performance and waste management not only rely on modern solutions, but also often related to social changes. Many times, we only need to look at decades Pre-existing consumption methods that have a much lower impact on the environment, such as reusable packaging in this case."

The 6th International Day without Plastic Bags allowed groups from all over the world to organize events to raise awareness of the environmental impact of disposable plastic bags, and to request the government to take action to stop marine litter.

International Plastic Bag Free Day is organized by Zero Waste Europe, GAIA and Fundació Catalana per a la Prevenció de Residus i Consum.


[1] Zero Waste Europe, GAIA, European Environment Agency, European Surfers Foundation, Friends of the Earth Europe and Waste Prevention Foundation.

[2] European Commission press release: Commission seeks opinions on reducing the use of plastic bags

[3] European Environmental Plastic Waste Strategy Green Paper.

[4] The data are taken from the International Bottom Trawl Survey and CEFAS's Clean Ocean Environment Monitoring Program.

[5] Osbar, 2009

[6] European Commission press release, June 30, 2014

[7] Directive 94/62/EC


Contact information

Joan-Marc Simon, Executive Director of Zero Waste Europe, +32 2 503 49 11

Piotr Barczak, Waste Policy Officer, European Environment Agency,, +32 (0) 2289 10 97

Antidia Citores, Legal and Lobbying Manager, European Surfers Foundation,, +33 6 32 68 90 36

Meadhbh Bolger, resource use activist, Friends of the Earth Europe,, +32 2893 10 34

Marta Beltran, Waste Campaign Coordinator, Fundació Prevenció de Residus i Consum,, +34 676 488 720

To learn more about International Plastic Bag Free Day, please visit:



Zero Waste Europe-Zero Waste Europe is an umbrella organization that enables communities to rethink their relationship with resources. It brings together local zero waste groups and municipalities in 20 EU countries. In addition to recycling, the Zero Waste Network aims to reduce waste generation, close material recycling, and increase employment and design waste in the system. www.zerowasteeurope.euGAIA-Global Coalition for Alternatives to Incinerators-is a global alliance of more than 800 grassroots groups, NGOs, and individuals in more than 90 countries/regions dedicated to building a waste-free world.

Surfrider Foundation Europe is an environmental association established in 1901 and established in France (Biarritz) in 1990. During its existence, it has acquired real expertise in the fields of research, local action, and the creation and dissemination of educational tools. Today, it is made up of a network of 1,700 volunteers, 10,000 members, and 100,000 supporters active in 40 local offices in 12 European countries. Learn more:

The European Environment Agency is the largest federation of environmental organizations in Europe, with more than 140 member organizations that have obtained membership from the public. The EEB is guided by the voice of 15 million European citizens and serves as the ear and voice of its members to EU policymakers and other parties.

Friends of the Earth Europe is the largest grassroots environmental protection network in Europe, uniting more than 30 national organizations and thousands of local groups:

Fundació Prevenció de Residus i Consum-Catalan Foundation for Waste Prevention and Responsible Consumption-is a non-profit organization promoted by environmental organizations, universities, companies and municipalities. It promotes various events (such as International Bagless Day, which started in 2008 as a Catalan-wide event and leads to annual celebrations worldwide) and projects to shift to a circular economy and a resource-efficient society.

"Plastic pollution is a global problem waiting for a global solution."

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