The world knows how plastic bags take years to decompose and what they can do to the environment. Yet many countries still use it with devastating consequences. Paper bags are the in thing and Italy has taken the first steps towards banning it in its supermarkets and stores, making it the first European country to do so.
Italy decided to welcome in New Year by Italian shops putting plastic bags in the bin.
Environmentalists, while saying this step should have come years ago, have hailed this decision which has been which has been asserted by Italian environmental minister Stefania Prestigiacomo, as, “little changes to our lifestyle that don't cost us anything and can save the planet." This has been eased in from 2006 when the ban was opposed by industry lobbyists on the grounds that it would hurt local manufacturers.
Stores and supermarkets don't have to throw away their stocks but they will have to give them away for free. Stores in Italy usually charge a nominal sum for the bags. Ireland did impose a charge of 15 cents on plastic in 2002 which did cut down use in large numbers. Italy's move is significant since estimates say that the nation uses nearly a fifth of all the bags distributed in the EU.
Italy's Environment League says that Italy uses about 20 billion plastic bags a year. Banning this will only have positive effects, say officials, since they will be replaced with reusable bags that will ensure less carbon emissions as well as make sure that no indestructible matter is improperly disposed off in fields and rivers where nature and wildlife can be affected.
The ban is also being enforced by television campaigns and information ventures that seek to explain the benefits of going plastic free and showing viable alternatives that people can use.
Italians have gone on record to say that while a law was a law it would take time for it to become a part of their lifestyle. Many compared it to the introduction of the seat belts which took time to catch on but today are an indelible part of their lives.