Italy has banned the distribution of non-biodegradable plastic bags at shops and retail points.
The plastic bag ban in Italy, adopted Dec. 22, went into effect Jan. 1 for the country. However, retail stores and supermarkets will be allowed to use up their stock of plastic bags, which they will have to hand out for free, rather than the traditional practice of charging a small fee, reports plasticnews.com.
Italy, one of Europe’s top consumers of plastic bags, according to Deutsche Welle’s report, uses more than 300 of them per person per year, or about a fifth of the 100 billion plastic bags used annually across Europe.
“This marks a step forward in the fight against pollution and it makes us all more responsible in terms of recycling,” said Environment Minister Stefania Prestigiacomo. Prestigiacomo said the government was launching a public awareness campaign along with the ban to promote the use of bags made out of natural fibers and other recyclable materials, reports Deutsche Welle.
According to plasticnews, More than 100,000 citizens had petitioned the government for a ban. A number of Italian cities, including Venice and Turin, had previously enacted plastic bag bans. Stores in Italy now will only be able to offer biodegradable, cloth or paper.
Similar bans have been enacted elsewhere around the world, CNN reports. In France and Mexico City, shops may only distribute bio-degradable bags, while cities in Australia, South Africa and Taiwan have imposed bans or surcharges. Plastic bags have been outlawed in Mumbai, India, since 2000.
In California, a plastic bag bill collapsed in September due to fierce opposition from the plastic bag manufacturing industry, which spent heavily on ads attacking the measure as a jobs killer. But California is among a growing handful of states and cities Delaware and cities that have passed laws requiring stores to take back plastic bags and film for recycling.