This week the European Parliament voted in favour of dramatically cutting plastic bag use across Europe by 80% in 5 years.
Figures from the European Commission show that more than 100 billion carrier bags are used every year within the EU, working out at an average of 200 per person. 8 billion of these end up as litter, many of them in Europe's seas including the English Channel and North Sea.
EU countries will be given the flexibility to choose how a reach a binding target of 50% reduction in plastic bag use within three years and an 80% reduction within five years of the legislation coming into force.
Liberal Democrats in coalition government have announced a 5p charge per plastic bag to be introduced across the whole of the UK in 2015. In Wales supermarkets have reported reductions of up to 96% in the use of single-use plastic bags following the introduction of a 5p charge in October 2011, meaning the UK is already set to meet the EU targets.
Despite this, Conservative MEPs opposed the EU plastic bag reduction targets, and put down a wrecking amendment that would have created a loophole by exempting all restaurants and cafeterias, though thankfully this was not supported by the Parliament.
Local Euro-MP, Catherine Bearder, commented:
"Plastic bag pollution is a common problem not only in our towns and countryside, but they are devastating in the seas and waterways. That is why we need coordinated action across Europe to address it.
"These ambitious targets will address the blight of lightweight plastic bags that litter Europe's seas and kill thousands of marine animals each year."
"But yet again we see the Conservatives dancing to the UKIP tune by trying to wreck this EU proposal."
"Liberal Democrats in government have already proposed measures to reduce plastic bag use in Britain, we are now leading the way in ensuring that similar measures are taken across the European continent."