No more free plastic bags

An agreement between politicians and retailers aims to curb the number of plastic bags in Germany. Thus, on April 26, 2016, trade representatives and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment signed an agreement according to which plastic bags will no longer be given away free of charge. The agreement applies to all plastic carrier bags with or without a handle that are available in the stores. Plastic bags as defined by the agreement do not include frozen food carrier bags, permanent carrier bags and very lightweight plastic bags, e.g. for fruit and vegetables. By 2018, at least 80% of the plastic bags placed on the market by participating companies and the associations’ member companies are to cost money. How much money this is in individual cases is left up to the trade – the agreement talks about an “appropriate fee”.

The background to the agreement is an EU Commission regulation that requires member states to reduce plastic bag consumption – to a maximum of 40 per capita by the end of 2019. Germans currently consume an average of around 70 plastic bags per year, well below the EU average of 198.

The end of the free plastic bag also means the end of an extremely popular advertising medium with a high contact rate, but at the same time should noticeably increase the use of and demand for reusable carrier bags made of materials such as cotton or non-woven PP.

Source: WA News 351/2016 © WA Media GmbH

Contra plastic bags:

  • Raw material crude oil is scarce
  • Climate pollution through incineration
  • Pollution of the oceans (5kg fish for 1kg plastic – prognosis: from 2050 more plastic than fish in the ocean!)
  • Average time in the ocean: 1-20 years
  • Normal plastic bag approx. 100-500 years up to the rotting
    Per person 3,7 kg plastic in nature
  • Per EU citizen 500 bags/year – EU plans reduction of 80% until 2020

Pro Cotton Bags:

  • Significantly better efficiency as more durable than plastic bags
  • CO2 climate neutral
  • Made from renewable raw material – less resource consumption




Plastic bags like the one on the left are to be avoided in the future

Sustainable alternative – Cotton Bags

Photo credit: velkr0 via / CC BY

The fight against the plastic bag – heuteplus | ZDF