RIGA, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) -- As of next year, free plastic bags will be banned from all stores in Latvia under legislative amendments passed by lawmakers in the final reading on Thursday, local media informed.
According to Latvia's amended packaging law, retailers will no longer provide shoppers with free plastic bags for their purchases, except for very lightweight bags with up to 15-micron thickness.
Packaging suppliers will be required to provide retailers with biodegradable packaging made of natural fibers and inform consumers about the necessity to phase out the plastic bags and replace them with alternative kinds of packaging.
The Latvian environmental protection and regional development ministry, which worked out the legislation, argued that the new regulation will help reduce the consumption of environmentally unfriendly plastic bags, including lightweight plastics.
A study commissioned by the ministry shows that between 2010 and 2015 the total amount of plastic bags weighing up to 0.003 kg increased by 57 percent in Latvia and the amount of bags weighing more than 0.003 kg grew 35 percent.
Latvia is introducing the ban on plastic shopping bags at a time when the European Parliament has approved a ban on single-use plastic items like cutlery, plates, straws and cotton buds in an effort to reduce the presence of plastic litter in the environment, particularly in the marine environment.