(QHA) - European Union member states will be encouraged to tax or even ban plastic bags under proposals to tackle the tonnes of plastic waste that enters the water system and kills wildlife, the Guardian informs.
Some countries, such as Denmark, have greatly reduced the use of plastic bags by introducing mandatory charges. Monday's initiative aims to spur all 28 EU states into action.
The proposals, if adopted by member states and the European parliament, would require EU nations to cut their use of the thin plastic bags given away in shops. But they fall far short of an EU-wide ban.
It would be up to EU countries to decide how to limit use by introducing taxes, national targets or possibly bans.
"Some member states have already achieved great results in terms of reducing their use of plastic bags. If others followed suit, we could reduce today's overall consumption in the European Union by as much as 80 percent," Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik said in a statement.
In total, an estimated 98.6 billion plastic bags, mostly of the thin kind that are rarely reused and escape most easily into the environment, were placed on the EU market in 2010, the Commission said.