In an effort to reduce pollution, the European parliament are hoping to introduce measures to curb the use of lightweight bags.

The new rules are set to target the use of plastic bags thinner than 0.05mm, which is the size of plastic bags most commonly used in the EU. Even though thinner plastic bags require less material in their production, the main problem is their suitability for recycling.

Thinner bags are often not reusable and tend to tear easily which means more of them are produced increasing pollution in rivers and seas. The move may be welcomed by consumers who have experienced bags tearing easily when they are overloaded with shopping.

Assuming the UK remains a part of the EU beyond 2019, proposals include reducing the annual average consumption to 90 lightweight bags per citizen by the end of 2019. This will later be reduced to just 40 by 2025.

The alternative is to introduce a charge for all light plastic bags used by shoppers by 2018. Shoppers in Wales are already paying for light plastic shopping bags and there has been little resistance to paying an extra few pence on top of the weekly shop.