Extracts from the press conference by Janez Potočnik, on an EC proposal that aimed to reduce the use of single-use plastic carrier bags
Type: Summary of press conference
Brussels - EC/Berlaymont
On 4 November 2013, Janez Potočnik, Member of the EC in charge of Environment, gave a press conference following the adoption by the EC of the proposal that requires Member States to reduce their use of lightweight plastic carrier bags. Member States can choose the measures they find most appropriate, including charges, national reduction targets or a ban under certain conditions. Lightweight plastic bags are often used only once, but can persist in the environment for hundreds of years, often as harmful microscopic particles that are known to be dangerous to marine life in particular.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Exterior view of the Berlaymont building in Brussels
||Arrival of Janez Potočnik, Member of the EC in charge of Environment, at the press conference
||Soundbite by Janez Potočnik (in ENGLISH): Today's proposal amends the packaging and packaging waste directive and introduces an obligation for all Member States to reduce the use of lightweight plastic bags while giving them the flexibility to choose the measures to reach that goal. These measures may include economic instruments such as charges, national reduction targets and marketing restrictions.
||Journalist working on her laptop
||Soundbite by Janez Potočnik (in ENGLISH): Every year, almost 100 billion plastic bags are used in the EU; Approximately 90% of these are lightweight like these lightweight bags are less frequently reused than thicker carrier plastic bags and they are more likely to become a litter. In fact, more than 8 billion plastic bags end up as litter in Europe every year causing enormous environmental damage particularly to fish and birds that end up swallowing particles of those plastics.
||Cutaway of the audience
||Soundbite by Janez Potočnik (in ENGLISH): Some Member States have already achieved great results in terms of reducing their use of plastic bags; if others follow, we could reduce our role consumption in the European Union by as much as approximately 80%. Ireland is a good recent example; the country introduced a levy on single use plastic bags and the result was a 95% decrease in plastic bag litter.
||Cutaway of the audience
||Soundbite by Janez Potočnik (in ENGLISH): Member States will now also be allowed to introduce marketing restrictions such as a ban, something that with the current legislation was not possible. Plastic bags are a symbol of our throw away society; they are made of a material that last for hundred of years, yet we only use them for a few minutes. I hope this proposal will also help to change attitudes towards consumption and waste prevention in general.
||Departure of Janez Potočnik