Following an EU directive, Iceland will reduce its consumption of plastic bags by 80% over the next three years.
RÚV reports that Icelanders use about 1,000 tonnes of plastic bags every year. While waste management company Sorpa has expressed reservations with the use of compostable, corn-based bags, they are still a considerably better option than using plastic bags.
Plastic bags take hundreds of years to break down, hindering the decomposition process of other waste in a landfill, says Elva Rakel Jónsdóttir of the Environmental Agency of Iceland. Even when it does break down, it does so into tiny pieces that find their way into the ocean, poisoning sea life.
“If we can prevent that by using corn-based bags, then that would be incredibly positive,” she says.
However, she adds, numerous other changes will be necessary. The best options where everyday use is concerned would be to recycle more, and use cloth bags for shopping. Cloth bags can last for 10 to 15 years, greatly reducing household plastic bag consumption, and making it easier for compostable waste in landfills to break down.