[EU] Publication of the new Directive on the reduction of consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags

Directive (EU) 2015/720 of 29 April 2015 sets targets to reduce the current level of consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags. For this purpose, it amends Directive 94/62/EC of 20 December 1994 on packaging and packaging waste.

Waste management : new measures to sustainably reduce consumption of lightweight plastic

New definitions are added to Directive 94/62/EU:

  • plastic,
  • plastic carrier bags,
  • lightweight plastic carrier bags,
  • very lightweight plastic carrier bags,
  • oxo-degradable plastic carrier bags (Article 1 of Directive 2015/720).

Setting up of  national reduction targets

The new Directive requires Member States to take measures to sustainably reduce consumption of lightweight plastic bags on their territory (Article 1). For this purpose, new paragraphs are added in Article 4 of Directive 94/62/EC.  The type of measures to implement is left to the discretion of Member States, which may set national reduction targets, maintain or introduce economic instruments as well as marketing restrictions, provided that such restrictions are proportionate and non-discriminatory. However, the measures must include either or both of the following:

  • “(a) the adoption of measures ensuring that the annual consumption level does not exceed 90 lightweight plastic carrier bags per person by 31 December 2019 and 40 lightweight plastic carrier bags per person by 31 December 2025, or equivalent targets set in weight. Very lightweight plastic carrier bags may be excluded from national consumption objectives;
  • (b) the adoption of instruments ensuring that, by 31 December 2018, lightweight plastic carrier bags are not provided free of charge at the point of sale of goods or products, unless equally effective instruments are implemented. Very lightweight plastic carrier bags may be excluded from those measures”.
  • They will also report to the European Commission (EC) their annual consumption of lightweight plastic bags (Article 4 of Directive 94/62/EC).

Union-wide labels to ensure Union-wide recognition of biodegradable and compostable plastic carrier bags

Furthermore, by 27 May 2017, the EC shall adopt the specifications of labels or marks to ensure Union-wide recognition of biodegradable and compostable plastic carrier bags and to provide consumers with the correct information about the composting properties of such bags”. (new Article 8a of Directive 94/62 / EC).

The new Directive must be transposed into the national law of Member States by 27 November 2017.

As a reminder, on 28 May 2015, the European Commission (EC) launched public consultations on the circular economy strategy late to be presented in 2015, aiming to  increase the competitiveness and resource-efficiency of the European economy and addressing a range of economic sectors, including waste.

 EHS Legal specialist

Sources:

Directive (EU) 2015/720 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2015 amending Directive 94/62/EC as regards reducing the consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags, OJEU L 115 of 6 May 2015, p. 11–15