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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

MEPs vote for plastic bag ban by 2020

17/01/2014 EURO-MPs have voted to ban plastic bags across the EU by 2020 – and introduce mandatory plastic recycling targets.

Introducing alternatives, and recycling more plastic, would clean up our seas, reduce litter on land, and create jobs, according to London’s Green MEP Jean Lambert.

She said that the economic potential of recycling plastics is still largely unexploited. Only 25% of plastic wastes are currently recycled.

“Better management of plastic waste could save €72 billion a year, boost the annual turnover of EU waste management and recycling firms by €42 billion and create over 400,000 jobs by 2020,” she said.

Ms Lambert, who last year considered the implications of better use of plastics on jobs for the European Parliament’s Employment and Social Affairs Committee, said:

“Parliament has today made clear the need for the EU to do more to tackle the pervasive problem of plastic waste and its impact on health and the environment.

“These bags are very low-hanging fruit when it comes to reducing unnecessary plastic waste, and its impact on the environment. As a number of member states have already shown, the use of these bags can be significantly reduced with effective policy-making.

“While member states should be free to go further, there should be ambitious and obligatory EU reduction targets and plastic bags should always come at a cost, otherwise plastic bag consumption will continue to grow.

“Single-use plastic bags are an outdated solution to the problem of how to take our shopping home, and I am delighted MEPs have this week voted to set a timetable for their withdrawal from use – and agreed to phase out the use most harmful types of plastics, and dangerous plastic additives (oxo-biodegradable plastics, certain phthalates and brominated flame retardants) completely.”

MEPs also called for restrictions on land-filling or incinerating plastic waste – and a review of EU packaging legislation.

The resolution will now be considered by the European Commission, which is expected to publish legislative proposals later this year.