140 million fewer plastic bags end up on waste dumps each year: REWE is gradually banning plastic bags. Photo: "obs/REWE Markt GmbH/Meta Welling"
Not in the Bag
Plastic Bag Ban Increases
Towards a plastic-bag-free zone step by step. After the EU directive was adopted in April 2015 to reduce single-use bag consumption by 80% over the coming 15 years, the nation states are following suit gradually. Some with voluntary provisions, others with binding legislation. To achieve this target EU members can opt for two avenues:
1. By the end of 2019 every consumer is allowed to use max. 90 plastic bags per year; by late 2025 this number is to go down to 40.
2. A prohibition of free plastic bags by late 2018.
After the British government imposed a fee on plastic bags in 2015 with the aim of reducing consumption, supermarket chain Tescois going even one step further: they donate the funds raised with these bags to environmental organisations. The gimmick: shoppers themselves can vote for the local organizations that should benefit from the money. All in all this campaign raised 11.5 million pounds in steps of 12,000, 10,000 and 8,000 pounds – this corresponds to the revenue generated by the group with plastic bags since October 2015.
Italy prohibited single-use plastic bags for both environmental and economic reasons as early as in 2012. Because the market with bio-degradable plastic bags is an important branch of industry for the Italians. In France single-use plastic bags were prohibited in July 2016. Initially only heavier plastic bags are affected, from 2017 also the plastic bags for fruit and vegetables. Ireland has brought down its plastic-bag consumption from 328 to 16 pieces per capita and annum by introducing a statutory fixed price. In Denmark the figure is even as low as four per capita.
And in Germany the retail association has also announced the national introduction of fees for bags. With this voluntary self-commitment valid from 1 July retailers want to anticipate statutory regulations. This means 80% of bags will be subjected to a fee within two years.
Bangladesh is the first country worldwide to completely prohibit plastic bags. Ruanda followed this example (2004/8) as did Taiwan (2003), Eritrea (2005), Tanzania (2006) China (2008) and Morocco (2016). In North America, Australia and Myanmar there are partial bans and mandatory levies for the disputed bags.