According to the data, which was revealed by Eurostat this week, each person living in the EU used on average 77 lightweight plastic carrier bags over the course of 2021, which is 11 bags less per person than in 2020.
Overall, 34.2 billion lightweight plastic carrier bags were used in the EU in 2021, which is 4.8 billion less than in 2020.
A lightweight plastic carrier bag is considered a bag with a wall thickness of between 15 and 50 microns.
The European Union's plastic bags directive aims to reduce the consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags, or LPCBs, to less than 40 bags per person by 31 December 2025, as the bloc seeks to reduce plastic usage.
However, this target does not include 'very lightweight' plastic carrier bags, such as those used for fruit and vegetables, which feature walls less than 15 micros thick.
The country that reported the highest usage of lightweight plastic carrier bags in 2021 was Lithuania, which used 271 bags per person.
This was ahead of Latvia (204 bags per person) and Czechia (189 bags per person), with a large proportion of this taken up by very lightweight plastic carrier bags.
At the other end of the scale, the countries that reported the lowest consumption were Belgium (five bags per person), Portugal (nine) and Sweden (16).
According to Eurostat, 'The wide range seen in per capita consumption is primarily attributable to differences in the effectiveness of the measures, depending on economic, social, and policy factors. Another reason is that some countries introduced consumption reduction measures during the 2018–2021 period, but others had the measures in place longer than that. A third potential explanation is the different calculation methodologies used by EU countries.'
Eurostat began collecting data on plastic bag usage in Europe in 2018.