Arrivederci plastic bags

Italy starts 2011 with a ban on plastic bags from shops and supermarkets, making it the first country to ban plastic bags in Europe.

Italians are among the top consumers of plastic bags in Europe. They use more than 300 per person a year, or around a quarter of the 100 billion plastic bags that are used annually across Europe.

While the law is not popular with much of the Italian public, the government has remained firm on the issue.

Environment Minister Stefania Prestigiacomo said: “This marks a key step forward in the fight against pollution and it makes us all more responsible in terms of recycling.”

Italian shoppers will now be offered alternatives such as biodegradable plastic, paper or fabric bags.

Environmental campaigners say that more than 180,000 tons of oil and CO2 emissions will be prevented by the measures.

Alison Brown

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie