July 1, 2016: Starting today, single-use plastic bags are now banned in France. This ruling will halt the annual consumption of 17 billion bags in France.
In this first stage, single-use plastic bags will be replaced by reusable and biodegradable bags. The ban will be extended beginning January 1, 2017 to include plastic used for packaging fruits and vegetables.
Tax measures to discourage use of plastic bags, and outright prohibition are spreading throughout the world. Bangladesh and Haiti respectively banned plastic bags in 2002 and 2012; Senegal and Monaco, did so in 2015. In Morocco, the manufacture and distribution of bags will be prohibited as of today, July 1, 2016.
© Beyond Plastic Med
In April 2015, the EU (100 billion plastic bags used each year) adopted a directive that provides only for their gradual reduction. It’s regrettable that this directive doesn’t entirely prohibit the use and manufacture of plastic bags. Implementation is very slow: not until 2019 will each member state reduce its use to 90 bags per person per year, and to 40 bags per person/per year in 2025.
Most European countries are already engaged in the fight against plastic bags, but few are willing to prohibit them totally. Denmark introduced a tax on their use in 1994, followed by other countries, including Ireland. The first country to have implemented a ban was Italy, in 2010. Efforts must continue to strengthen the directive and bring about a more rapid and widespread prohibition.
Beyond Europe, coalitions of countries and organizations should emerge elsewhere. The Tara Expeditions Foundation is continuing its commitment, especially in the Mediterranean, with the Beyond Plastic Med initiative. Our objective is to bring together NGOs, scientific institutions, local communities, and industrialists to develop innovative solutions for stopping plastic pollution at sea throughout the Mediterranean basin.
© Beyond Plastic Med
Often used for less than 20 minutes, a plastic bag takes about 450 years to degrade in nature, severely impacting the Ocean. Ingested micro-plastics (including bio-degradable plastics) can poison marine life. Pieces of floating plastic concentrate pollutants and heavy metals, spreading them throughout the marine food chain as they break down. Plastic debris also transports many invasive species that can disrupt the balance of marine ecosystems.