Italy Bans Plastic Shopping Bags Starting January 1
The government of Italy has become the first in the European Union to outlaw the use of plastic bags by all retailers, signaling a large shift in a country which uses over 20 billion bags per year (400 per person) — an amount equal to 25% of the total produced and used in the entire EU.
The Italian environmental organization Legambiente estimates that the ban will save 180,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions per year and help save many of the 100,000 marine mammals that the UN Environmental Program estimates are killed every year by improper disposal of the bags.
In a recent poll conducted by Legambiente which surveyed 20,000 consumers in 80 locations, more than 73% of respondents said they would prefer reusable bags if they could not use plastic. Only 16% said they would prefer bio-plastic, and 10% said they would prefer paper.
While there are only a few cities (and few, if any, countries) with plastic bag bans in place, many businesses have reduced bag use significantly in the past year. IKEA has reduced plastic bag use by 90%by replacing free, plastic bags with low-cost reusable bags and the UK’s Marks & Spencer has reduced bag usage by 80% in less than one year.
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