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Italy announces total ban on plastic bags

  |   Dec. 31, 2010 at 12:50 PM
ROME, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Italy says it will ban the production and distribution of non-biodegradable plastic shopping bags as of Saturday.

The country's industry and environment ministries said stores will be allowed to use up their existing stocks of plastic bags as long as they are offered free of charge, ANSA reported Friday.

"In cooperation with the competent authorities, we will be watching to see that the switchover is carried out according to the rules," a joint statement from the ministries said.

Shoppers will be offered paper or other biodegradable bags or can bring their own shopping baskets, like those used by their grandparents.

The farmers' union Coldiretti called it "a revolution in the way we shop, just over 100 years since the invention of plastic."

"There is no going back; producers have had enough time to prepare themselves for this change," Environment Minister Stefania Prestigiacomo said.

"Sustainability is made of little changes to our lifestyle that don't cost us anything and can save the planet," she said.

A recent poll showed Italians were willing to do their part, with 73 percent saying they would employ alternatives to polluting plastic bags when out shopping, ANSA reported.

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