Italy bans plastic bags

Really pleased to hear a positive story about the environment this morning on the news. Italy is banning plastic bags from tomorrow – 1st January 2011. Apparently it has taken ten years for the country to gradually bring this in, allowing businesses to have the time to adapt and provide the alternatives – paper, cloth or biodegradable plastic bags. Environment Minister Stefania Prestigiacomo said the decree marked “a key step forward in the fight against pollution and it makes us all more responsible in terms of recycling.”

Other countries are also addressing the problem of plastic bags. For example, a new law has come into effect in Mexico City giving the authorities the power to fine shops which give away free plastic bags to their customers. In the US, San Francisco became the first city to ban plastic bags from large supermarkets and pharmacies in March 2007. Several months later the rest of California passed laws requiring large supermarkets to take back and recycle plastic bags.

Since the Republic of Ireland passed a law in 2002 charging shoppers for every plastic bag, use of the carriers has plummeted by 90% and France plans to impose an outright ban by 2010.

I think we’re lagging behind here in the UK. The town of Modbury in Devon became the first place in Britain to outlaw plastic bags in April 2007. Apparently others plan to follow suit but perhaps government should be bringing in laws like the one in Italy which would make businesses adapt and use alternative materials. What do you think? Add your comments below.

Read more here on the BBC site.

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