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Denmark announces ban on lightweight plastic bags

By State of Green, 04 Dec 2018

We need to ensure we reduce our consumption of single use plastic carrier bags. Therefore, the Danish government will now prohibit thin, lightweight plastic carrier bags that are rarely reused.

The Danish government wants to put a stop to the thin lightweight plastic carrier bags customers often receive when buying meat at the butcher, fruit and vegetables at the greengrocer or takeaway pizzas. Giving away carrier bags for free will also be banned, regardless of the material they are made of. This is all part of the government’s action plan against plastic pollution.

– We must break away from our use and throw-away mentality. We’ll therefore ban the carrier bags that are typically not reused. Plastic degrades very slowly in nature and, in worse case scenarios, ends up in the oceans, where it causes damage to the marine environment. However, plastic is also a fantastic material to wrap around food so that it lasts longer. Therefore, we need to focus on the plastics that we can do without, and the thin, lightweight plastic carrier bags are a natural place to start, said the Danish Minister for Environment and Food, Jakob Ellemann-Jensen.

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No more free  carrier bags 
The government will also ban giving away free carrier bags. Instead, consumers will have to bring their own bag or buy a thicker bag which can be reused several times. In the future, consumers will have to pay for all types of  carrier bags, also in clothes shops where in most cases, they are given away for free. Moreover, the Ministry of Environment and Food will enter into an agreement with the Danish Chamber of Commerce, retail supermarket chain Coop and other parties to reduce Danes’ consumption of  carrier bags by 50 per cent by 2023.

– Consumers can still get plastic carrier bags for their goods, but in the future the bags will cost money, and therefore consumers will have to make a conscious choice as to whether they really need a bag. My hope is that this will encourage all of us to say no when we’re asked whether we want a bag, said Minister for Environment and Food, Jakob Ellemann-Jensen.

– Coop has already taken several steps to ensure more sustainable consumption of carrier bags. We’re in the process of replacing our carrier bags with more climate-friendly carrier bags in all of our 1,100 supermarkets, and we’ve given away 700,000 wear-resistant recyclable carrier bags to our members. In future, we need to sell more eco-friendly recyclable carrier bags and fewer single-use carrier bags, as reuse is a crucial parameter for the environment. A 50 per cent reduction in the consumption of carrier bags is ambitious, but we’re convinced that we can get Danish consumers on board, said Signe Frese, CSR Director at Coop.

– Retailers want to contribute to reducing unnecessary consumption of carrier bags and also ensure that use of carrier bags is as environmentally sound and sustainable as possible. We must ensure the greatest possible reuse and recycling of carrier bags, regardless of the type of material. The government’s initiatives and the voluntary agreement will strengthen our possibilities of reaching our goal together, said Jakob Lamm Zeuthen, Head of Environment Policy at the Danish Chamber of Commerce.

The ban on lightweight plastic carrier bags is just one of a number of initiatives in the government’s action plan against plastic pollution.

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Facts about the ban on lightweight plastic carrier bags 
• Ban on thin plastic carrier bags with a handle for transporting goods, as these often cannot be reused. The ban does not include more sturdy plastic carrier bags that consumers already know from Danish supermarkets, as these are typically made from a thicker material and can often be reused.
• The ban on giving away carrier bags with a handle for free (regardless of size and material) means that in future consumers will have to pay for all their carrier bags, regardless of size and material.
• Voluntary agreement between the Ministry of Environment and Food, the Danish Chamber of Commerce, Coop and other parties to reduce Danes’ consumption of carrier bags by 50 per cent by 2023. Among other things, the industry and the Ministry of Environment and Food will launch an information campaign aimed at consumers to encourage them to reuse carrier bags.
• Today, about 80 plastic carrier bags per person are used every year in Denmark. In 1993, a fee was introduced on plastic carrier bags, and this fee has helped reduce consumption by almost 50 per cent.

-Source: The Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark

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