SNP welcome EU action to reduce plastic bag usage

Scottish National Party Euro MPs have welcomed a vote in the European Parliament today (Tuesday) which will see the EU take substantive action to reduce plastic bag usage all across the European Union.

Under the new rules approved by MEPs, Member States would be able to choose between two policy options: to either take measures to ensure that average yearly consumption of these bags does not exceed, on 90 lightweight bags per citizen by 2019 and 40 by 2025, or alternatively, ensure that, by 2018, they are not handed to shoppers free of charge.

SNP MEPs Alyn Smith and Ian Hudghton voted in favour of the proposals during the Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg this week.

Commenting, SNP MEP Ian Hudghton said:

“Action to reduce plastic bags in Scotland by the SNP Government has already proven to be enormously successful with figures at the end of last year showing a massive 90% reduction in plastic bag usage at the end of 2014.

“Such significant reductions in the number of single use carrier bags handed out by retailers is excellent news for the environment but we need to remember that our environment doesn’t simply stop at Carlisle or the coast. The fact is that action to reduce plastic bag usage across the EU is still patchy, so today’s vote was a major step forward in terms of getting EU-wide action to further reduce our reliance on single use carrier bags.”

The SNP’s Alyn Smith MEP added:

“The Scottish Government’s decision to introduce a charge back in October last year offers environmental and social benefits in line with ambitions to tackle litter and promote behaviours consistent with a zero waste society.

“We are proud to lead by example and hope that a dramatic reduction in the use of the plastic bags will become reality across the EU.

“Under the new law, EU states are permitted to introduce extra taxes on plastic bags or even ban single-use plastic bags on a national level. Whatever way they choose to do it, the use of plastic bags is to be reduced by 80 percent by 2025.

“Plastic bags are not biodegradable and especially harmful to marine animals. Luckily, the solution is simple and we can make a substantial difference as Scotland's experience proves.”