MILAN (Reuters Life! )-
As one of Europe\'s largest users of plastic shopping bags, Italy has banned the use of plastic shopping bags since January 1, and retailers have warned that there will be confusion and many stores are ready.
Italian critics say it takes too long for polyethylene packaging bags to be produced using too much oil to break down, plug the drain, easily spread and become eye sore and environmental hazard.
Italians use about 20 billion packs a year.
More than 330 per personor about one-
According to Legambiente, an Italian environmental lobby, it ranks fifth in the total used in Europe.
Retailers have been banned from offering polyethylene bags to shoppers since Saturday.
They can use bags made of biodegradable materials such as plastic, cloth or paper.
Other European countries have also tried voluntary programmes to reduce the use of plastic bags, such as the promotion of reusable cotton bag
In 2002, Ireland taxed 15 euro cents per bag (20 U. S. cents)
Reduced usage by 90% in a week.
Stefano Ciafani, director of science at Legambiente, said when talking about turning to a bio-capable release bag: \"What you\'re talking about is a revolution that\'s already going on . \".
Ciafani said 200 of Italy\'s 8,000 cities have introduced their own ban on plastic bags, including Turin and Venice.
Legambiente said on its website that many supermarket chains have begun to use biodegradable bags for shoppers, even if not nationwide.
Legislation prohibiting packages was enacted in December 2006, with the original deadline of January 2010.
The suspension was delayed due to industry opposition, but last week Environment Minister Stefania Prestigiacomo pushed for the suspension in a comprehensive decree.
Business newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore said this week that the Italian Retailer Association Felde distribuzione said the deadline for January 1 could lead to \"confusion\" and provide poor service to shoppers because of
The Italian Federation of rubber and plastics estimates that the cost of replacing machines to manufacture biodegradable bags is 30,000 euros ($39,440)
According to the newspaper, each plant reached 50,000 euros.
Stores and shoppers seem ready. The mid-
Aldo Vismara, manager of Billa, said that the Billa supermarket on Milan\'s bustling torvia Torino has prepared a white biodegradable bag for 10 euros, which is two of the existing yellow plastic bags.
\"We will see them on the check --
\"From January 1, 2011, we will change the yellow one,\" he said . \".
On the downside of the shift, Vismara said the white bag had the potential to break up in the rain.
Shoppers are worried about the strength of the new package.
\"It\'s a positive move if the bag is strong enough.
The worry is, what happens if they break?
Shopper Rosanna declined to give her last name.