EU persists in its efforts to curtail the usage of plastic bags
- 09-Nov-2023 7:47 PM
- Journalist: Harold Finch
In 2021, there was a noticeable decrease in the use of lightweight plastic bags in the European Union (EU), with the average individual usage dropping to 77 bags per person, a decline of 11 bags compared to 2020. The total consumption of lightweight plastic bags across the EU in 2021 was 34 billion, marking a substantial reduction of around 4.8 billion bags from the previous year.
This reduction is a result of concerted efforts by all EU nations to implement measures in line with the Plastic Bags Directive. The directive has set an ambitious target to further reduce bag use to a maximum of 40 bags per person by December 31, 2025.
Data from 2021 reveals significant disparities in bag usage among EU countries. Lithuania topped the list with an average of 271 bags used per person, followed by Latvia with 204 bags, and the Czech Republic with 189 bags.
The stark differences in per capita consumption of plastic bags can be attributed to the varying effectiveness of economic, social, and political measures employed in different countries. Additionally, the discrepancies in the calculation methodologies used by different EU countries could also contribute to the variation in bag consumption figures.
In a related development, the European Commission recently proposed measures to tackle the issue of microplastics. Turning to the topic of polyethylene consumption, the estimated consumption of polyethylene (excluding exports to Belarus and Kazakhstan) stood at 127,034 thousand tons during the first eight months of 2023. This marks a 1% increase compared to the same period in the previous year, and it's noted that supplies of all types of ethylene polymers have seen an uptrend.
In terms of polypropylene supplies to the Russian market, the first eight months of 2023 witnessed a total supply of 76,100 thousand tons (calculated using the formula: production + import - export, and excluding exports to Belarus and Kazakhstan).
These figures highlight the ongoing efforts within the EU to reduce plastic bag usage and combat plastic pollution. The progress made thus far is promising, but there is still a long way to go to achieve the goals set by the Plastic Bags Directive. Meanwhile, the fact that consumption and supply of other plastic polymers like polyethylene and polypropylene are on the rise underscores the complexity of the challenge facing policymakers and industry stakeholders in managing plastic use and waste.