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Biodegradable Bags Cause Outrage in Italy.

(It’s Not Really About Bags.)

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robert99 robert99 Sweden Posts: 1360
1 9 Jan 2018
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/08/world/europe/italy-plastic-bags.html

The Italian government learned the hard way, early this year, that no good deed goes unpunished.

Acting under a 2015 European Union directive addressing the global disaster caused by plastic bags, which take hundreds of years to degrade, Italian lawmakers enacted a measure banning the use of plastic bags for fruit, vegetables and baked goods in favor of eco-friendly biodegradable and compostable alternatives.

The government was firm on one point: The new bags could not be given out for free, and the charge of 1 euro cent to 3 euro cents per eco-friendly bag had to appear on the sales bill. Failure to charge consumers would result in a fine for the retailer.

But since the law went into effect on Jan. 1, it has been met with a flood of protests in grocery stores and supermarkets throughout Italy, as well as on social media.

...Stefano Ciafani, the director general of Legambiente, Italy’s largest environmental association.

“You would think that the director general had never been in a supermarket,” Mr. Ciafani retorted. “He suggests that the fruit and vegetable aisle is akin to a sterilized operating room where nothing must be touched. “There’s dirt on those vegetables, that’s a fact.”

Legambiente applauded the spirit of the law but gave low marks to the government for execution.

“The crazy thing is that the Italian law is very advanced — more advanced than the E.U. directive. But the government handled it all badly,” Mr. Ciafani said. “They allowed a cutting-edge law to become the object of political conflict, but, then, we are in a period of electoral campaign.”

“Everyone is always quick to say that they are environmentally friendly and mock Trump for global warming, but where you ask them for a minuscule and a little-more-than-symbolic concrete contribution, they become indignant,” the historian Marco Gervasoni wrote in a front-page editorial published on Thursday in Il Messaggero.

Italian news outlets reported that the annual cost per family averaged between €4 and €12.50 per year, or about $4.80 to $15, depending on how much one paid per bag.

The irony is that the griping over the need to pay 1 or 2 cents for produce bags far outweighed protests over 5 percent increases in domestic gas and electricity bills as well as increases in highway tolls.
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robert99 robert99 Sweden Posts: 1360
2 10 Jan 2018
UK dealing with plastic bags too
http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-42630898

Plastic bag charge: 5p levy to be extended in England

The 5p charge for plastic bags in large shops in England is set to be extended to cover nearly all retailers, as part of new plans for the environment.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove told a meeting of the cabinet that he wanted to tackle our "throwaway culture".

Shops with fewer than 250 employees are currently exempt from the charge, which since being introduced in England in October 2015 has cut plastic use.

The government is set to unveil its 25-year environment plan later this week.

Briefing the cabinet on Tuesday, Mr Gove said the government was "determined to tackle the throwaway culture which plastics encapsulate".

The 5p charge on single-use plastic bags in England has contributed to a reduction of nearly 90% in their use, the government said.
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