Plastic bag cliff-hanger agreement successfully concluded

EEB Reactions

Brussels, 21 November 2014

The Council of Ministers, the European Parliament and the European Commission have reached a crucial agreement which will lead to substantial reductions in the use of plastic bags across Europe. Member States have the choice of either adopting a plastic bag reduction target of 90 bags per person per year by 2019 and then 40 bags per person per year by 2025; or introducing a ban on the handing out of plastic carrier bags for free by 2018; or banning plastic carrier bags at national level altogether.

Piotr Barczak, the European Environmental Bureau’s Policy Officer on Waste, said: “This is good news for Europe and the environment. In 92% of cases, these bags are used only once and then become waste. They have little economic value but a highly detrimental and visible impact on the environment. Thanks to this agreement, Europe will see a big drop in plastic bag littering.”

The European Environmental Bureau nevertheless regrets that the ban on oxo-degradable bags has been dropped from the agreement. Despite evidence that these bags are neither recyclable nor compostable [1], the UK and other Member States strongly opposed such a ban and blocked its adoption.

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) welcomes the decision by Commission Vice-President Timmermans to back down from vetoing the agreement reached between the Parliament and the Council. It now hopes that the EU institutions will show their support for the Waste Package which European Commission President Juncker has placed under review until 16 December. The package contains a comprehensive review of Europe’s waste targets and seeks to make Europe more resource-efficient. President Juncker is seeking views within the Commission on whether to withdraw the package altogether, under pressure from short-term business interests.


Notes to editors
[1] See report commissioned by the UK’s Department for the Environment (DEFRA): and PlasticsEurope’s study on oxo-degradable bags:

For further information please contact:
Sébastien Pant, EEB Communications Officer for Air Quality and Resource Efficiency,, or on +32 2 790 8817