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French government bans plastic bags from supermarkets

Billions of plastic bags find their way into the world's oceans every year. Now the French government has moved to reduce the number of plastic bags in consumers' hands - by banning them from supermarkets altogether.

The French government has moved to ban all plastic bags from supermarkets in an attempt to curb pollution and reduce waste.

Amid debate on a biodiversity bill Wednesday evening, French lawmakers on the National Assembly's Commission for Sustainable Development voted in favor of an amendment that would bar single-use plastic bags that are not biodegradable from supermarket checkout lines and produce sections beginning in January 2016.

Instead, the measure proposed the use of thicker, reusable plastic bags or paper ones.

Renewed intiative

It was not the first time French shoppers faced a reduction in the amount of plastic bags available to them. Between 2002 and 2011, the number of plastic bags passed out in supermarkets dropped to 700 million from 10.5 billion.

The French Environment Minister Segolene Royal has said many consumers are unaware of the devastating effect the use of plastic bags has on the environment.

A press release posted on the ministry's website on Thursday said the discharge of plastic waste into the oceans not only posed a threat to marine life but had also cost the tourism and fishing industries some $13 billion.

cjc/hg (AFP, dpa)

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