Latvians have a penchant for plastic

In 2020, each person living in the EU used, on average, 87 lightweight plastic carrier bags (-6 bags per person compared with 2019). In total, this amounted to 39.0 billion (bn) lightweight plastic carrier bags (-0.4 bn bags compared with 2019) according to data on lightweight plastic carrier bags published by Eurostat November 16.

Latvians were considerably bigger fans of plastic bags than most other Europeans. 

Among the EU Member States, the countries that reported the highest consumption of LPCBs per person in 2020 were Lithuania (294 bags per person), Czechia (251) and Latvia (229).

Plastic bag consumption, 2021

At the other end of the scale, the countries that reported the lowest consumption were Belgium (10 bags per person), Portugal (17) and Poland (20). In Belgium, on average, only 3 VLPCBs per person were consumed in 2020. Portugal and Poland did not report the split. 

Although the consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags (LPCBs) decreased overall since the start of the data series (2018), the consumption of very light plastic carrier bags (VLPCBs) that are less than 15 micrometres (microns) thick actually increased (14.0 bn in 2018; 14.3 bn in 2019; 14.7 bn in 2020). 

However, the consumption of LPCBs that are from 15 to less than 50 microns thick decreased noticeably between 2018 (22.0 bn) and 2019 (19.8 bn), then remained more or less stable in 2020 (19.9 bn). 

"The increase in the consumption of VLPCBs may be a substitution effect resulting from the plastic bags directive which aims at reducing the consumption of LPCBs to not exceed 40 bags per person by 31 December 2025. However, this target does not include VLPCBs," suggested Eurostat. 

Plastic bag consumption trends

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