1 Jan 2011

Italy bans plastic bags

11:08 am on 1 January 2011

Italy is introducing a ban on plastic shopping bags from the start of 2011.

Retailers will be able to provide only bags that are bio-degradable, or can be recycled.

Italians use about 20 billion single-use plastic bags each year - more than 330 per person, the BBC reports.

It has taken about a decade to get laws passed prohibiting them.

Many shops and cafes have already started to introduce biodegradable bags ahead of the change.

Supporters of the ban say plastic bags are an environmental hazard which use too much oil to produce and can take decades to break down.

Italy joins a still very short list of countries banning plastic bags. Some countries like Germany have a voluntary ban, while others including Ireland have imposed a levy on them.