Germany: Plastic bag use drops by over one third
Germans are using far fewer plastic bags than before, reducing the use of plastic by more than one third, a report has shown.
In 2017, there were 1.3 billion fewer plastic bags in use than in 2016, a fall of more than one third.
The figures come from a report by the Society for Packaging Market Research ton Thursday.
The average German used 29 plastic bags over the 12 months of 2017, representing a total of 2.4 billion for the whole country.
The report looked specifically at plastic carrier bags, and not the transparent bags used for fruit and vegetables.
Since 2016, many German companies have made a commitment not to hand out any plastic bags for free.
In 2017, Germany’s government has signed an agreement with the retail industry to curb the use of plastic bags. A key part of the plan is getting retailers to stop giving away bags for free.
However, customers in German shops and department stores can expect to pay higher fees for plastic bags from July 1, 2016.
The change also means that retailers offering free bags will gradually be much harder to find.
However, the agreement, cemented by Environment Minister, Barbara Hendricks and Trade Association President, Josef Sanktjohanser in Berlin, is not legally binding and allows companies to join voluntarily.
As a first step, the plan is to have a price on 80 per cent of plastic bags by 2018.
Sanktjohanser said 260 retail companies have committed to the initiative, which aims to ultimately deter customers from using plastic bags.
The bags in question are the thicker variety given out in department and clothing stores, while flimsy plastic bags often used in fresh produce shops will remain free.
The consumption of plastic bags varies greatly across the EU, but on average each person uses just under 200 bags per year.
The EU wants to see that number drop to 90 bags per person by 2019, and to 40 per person by 2025.
Germans use around 70 bags per person each year. That’s one reason why the government has opted against implementing a law to reduce plastic use.
According to Germany’s Federal Environment Agency, 30 million tons of plastic end up in the world’s oceans each year.
Plastic bags need an estimated 500 years to disintegrate, which means they are constantly building up in the environment.
Hundreds of thousands of birds, sea turtles, fish and marine mammals die annually from ingestion or entanglement in plastic debris.
Tons of microplastics have been found in the stomachs of marine animals, and much of it eventually ends up on our plates. (Reuters/NAN)