Riigikogu passes amendment reducing use of plastic bags

Thinner produce bags at an Estonian store.
Thinner produce bags at an Estonian store. Source: (ERR)

The Riigikogu adopted a law of amendments to the Packaging Act on Tuesday that aims to restrict the use of plastic bags.

The bill was adopted with 68 votes in favor and six votes against. According to chairman of the Riigikogu’s environment committee, Rainer Vakra (SDE), this had been an issue in the European Union for a long time. To solve the problem, an EU directive that restricts the use of plastic bags had been issued, and Estonia was supposed adopt it last November.

The amendment will transpose the directive into Estonian law. It seeks to make sure that annual consumption does not exceed 90 lightweight plastic bags per person by Dec. 31, 2019, and 40 lightweight plastic bags per person by Dec. 31, 2025. The deadline for transposing the directive was Nov. 27, 2016.

Once the amendments to the Packaging Act take effect, stores need to make alternatives available to customers, such as paper bags, textile and mesh bags, and multiple-use plastic bags.

A complete ban would then apply starting 2019 on the free handout of bigger plastic bags. An exemption will be made for smaller lightweight plastic bags used for the packaging of foods, such as meat or vegetables, or for hygiene purposes when buying milk packaged in a sealed plastic bag.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

Source: BNS

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