On the International Day Without Plastic Bags, July 3, the Fundació Residus i Consum, Friends of the Earth, Surfrider Foundation Europe demanded the prohibition of the distribution of free single-use bags. The countries of the European Union have on the table throughout this year the transposition of the Directive which must include measures to reduce the consumption of these disposable bags.
EU member states, including Spain, only have 4 months to approve the transposition of Directive (EU) 2015/720, of the European Parliament and of the Council, approved on April 29, 2015, for the reduction of stock exchanges of single-use plastic. November is the month in which Spain will have to define objectives and measures for the reduction, and possible prohibition, of this object of daily consumption: the single-use plastic bag. However, the deadlines are approaching and no action has yet been taken, while some neighboring countries have already started, such as Italy or France.
More than 100 billion plastic bags are used annually in Europe; It is considered that in the last 10 years the consumption of this object has increased by 47%. According to the latest data available from Cicloplast, in Spain, each citizen consumes an average of 238 plastic bags per year: more than 97,000 tons, of which barely 10% is recycled. In fact, most bags end up in landfills, incinerators, or as waste in the aquatic environment. The bags are everyday objects with a very short average useful life estimated at about 12 minutes. However, its environmental cost is very high: it is a derivative of oil, water and energy are consumed for its production and distribution, and it remains in the environment for centuries. Without forgetting the direct effects on marine fauna: it is estimated that they are the cause of death of about 100,000 marine mammals each year.
On the occasion of the International Day without Plastic Bags, a celebration promoted by the Fundació Prevenció de Residus i Consum, environmental groups requested incisive legislation, such as the prohibition of the free distribution of single-use plastic bags nationwide and the implementation of strong regional actions to effectively reduce single-use plastic bags. Without going any further, in Morocco, they already have a law to ban plastic bags that came into force on July 1 of this year.
At present, the State Waste Prevention Program is limited to recommending that local administrations carry out voluntary agreements and public awareness actions. On the other hand, the State Waste Management Framework Plan refers to the transposition of the European Directive, 2015/720, still in the process of being drawn up. At the regional level in Catalonia, a law is being processed that will prohibit the free distribution of plastic bags to all establishments of any activity. The prohibition of free distribution is the most effective measure to meet the objectives of the European Directive for the reduction of single-use plastic bags. In addition, other complementary measures should be implemented such as: policies to support traders to facilitate and reward good work, promotion of the use of reusable bags, preferably made of organic fabric, and elimination of plastic bags in large areas for the acquisition of fruit and vegetables. vegetables among others.
In order to give visibility to the problem and increase public awareness in the Spanish territory, actions took place in various autonomous communities to promote and support policies to mitigate this impact. Surfrider Spain in the framework of the events of San Sebastián 2016 European City of Culture and its European campaign ban the bag proposed a fishing for waste in an old tuna boat and a workshop with a Basque artist, who made an installation on the impact of marine litter in a mammal: the whale. Fundació Prevenció de Residus i Consum organized an action in a market in Barcelona that has managed to reduce bags by more than 50% through a campaign in which they have stopped giving away for free. Consumers and merchants using reusable alternatives to plastic bags were photographed. And reusable bags without handles were provided, ideal to replace the small plastic bags that are used so much in fruits and vegetables, another challenge to eliminate disposable plastic from our lives.