No more plastic bags polluting our environment

Life in plastic is not so fantastic after all. Plastic bags have been blamed for polluting the environment, especially aquatic ecosystems. In April MEPs voted in favour of halving the consumption of lightweight plastic bags by 2017 and reducing it by 80% by 2019 compared to 2010 levels. The topic of last month's guest photographer contest was plastic bags. The winning photo illustrates this article.

Guest photographer_Gábor Szellő / Nowadays_
Picture taken by Gábor Szellő, our most recent winner in our guest photographer contest

The scale of the problem

In 2010 there were 200 bags for everyone who lived in the EU, according to an estimate by the European Parliamentary Research Service.

New legislation

The legislation approved by MEPs during the April plenary in Strasbourg foresees a mandatory charging for carrier bags in the food sector and a recommendation to charge for bags in the non-food sector. Charges could be reduced for bags that are biodegradable and compostable.

Light bags that are used to wrap up loose food should gradually be replaced by biodegradable and compostable bags by 2019.

Margrete Auken, a Danish MEP who is a member of the Green group, is in charge of steering the legislation through Parliament. She said after the vote: "MEPs have today voted to significantly strengthen draft EU rules aimed at reducing plastic bag use and waste, notably to include obligatory European reduction targets and a requirement that plastic bags come at a cost. As front-running countries have demonstrated, dramatically reducing the consumption of these disposable bags is easily achievable with a coherent policy."

About the photo

This article is illustrated with the picture "Nowadays" taken by Gábor Szellő. Mr Szellő works as a freelance photographer in Hungary, where he takes mostly photos of people, streets and landscapes. To view more of his work, click on the link on the right.

The topic for next month is "On the way to vote - election date". To enter the contest, send your contribution by Sunday 25 May. This time each participant can send between one and five pictures. Click here for more details.