Earlier this month Italy took a dramatic step to reduce its consumption of single- use, non-biodegradable plastic bags – use of such bags is now banned as of New Year’s Day. According to several reports, Italy was one of Europe’s top plastic bag consumers – using about 1/5th of the 100 billion bags used annually across Europe.
Despite opposition from some retailers who argue that biodegradable bags are too expensive and not as durable, similar bans in other countries have proven successful. According to Treehugger, China’s bag ban has kept 100 billion bags out of the landfill since its inception two years ago.
Bag fees have also proved successful over the years – from Washington DC’s recent 5 cent fee to Ireland’s PlasTax back in 2002.
While we applaud Italy’s effort to curb wasteful consumption of plastic shopping bags, we continue to advocate plastic bag fees and taxes over bans for the following reasons:
- Fees are market-based solutions that get people to change their consumption habits – and with a nudge not a shove. Even small, 5-cent fees make a huge impact.
- Fees are practical for the consumer.
- There is evidence that fees can be adopted in the U.S., and they work! We have an example of a major city (D.C.) reducing consumption of use-and-toss bags by 80% with a small fee.
- The money collected from fees can go directly toward addressing the problem.
- If you don’t like the idea of your money going to fatten government coffers, no problem. Bring your own bag, and they don’t get a dime.
Read more about our stance on fees vs bans here.
Read the full Treehugger article here.