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Phasing out single-use plastic-bags

Phase out single-use plastic bags

Plastic bags, especially disposable plastic bags, are slowly leaving us. The good news is that this is happening, and the bad news is that this process is too slow, and they continue to harm our economy, health and the environment.

Since their introduction in the United States in 1957, they have expanded to all parts of the world and are now everywhere. Oceans, rivers, mountains, fields, cities, homes... everywhere. The reason for their success is that they are cheap, light, hygienic, and durable, and the reason they should be eliminated is because they are not so cheap. It's just that their producers don't bear the cost, people are. The cost of cleaning cities, oceans and fields, the cost of flooding caused by plastic bags clogging the drainage system, the cost of repairing machines blocked by plastic bags in the garbage separation plant, the cost of biodiversity loss, the death of animals due to suffocation or pollution, and the increasing number of plastics in the food chain The more health costs, the more you don’t want to go back to the cost of tourism in a country where there are more plastic bags in the air than birds... All these and many more are costs that society is borne, which is why the end of plastic bags is coming. . It has no economic or environmental significance.

From an industrial design point of view, plastic bags are a complete disaster; they are a potentially high-impact product, but their lifespan is short, and worse, they are absolutely dispensable. Until a few years ago, we did not live with plastic bags. In the future, we will continue to live in an environment without plastic bags.

Regulations on plastic bags are being strengthened around the world: in places such as China or South Africa, the thinnest and least durable plastic bags are completely banned, while in other places such as Taiwan, they choose to levy taxes.

So, what experience does Europe have in reducing the consumption of plastic bags?


The most successful example in Europe is Ireland, which introduced "PlasTax"-Law No. 605/2001-0.15 Euro per bag in 2002, and managed it in just 6 months, reducing the use of disposable plastic bags. A reduction of 90% and an income of 19 million euros for the state. The tax applies to shops, supermarkets and other public places, excluding reusable bags that sell for more than €0.70, small bags containing bulk meat, fish, ice, fruit and vegetables, and bags in airplanes and ships. Starting from 1905 euros, violations of the regulations will be fined. The BBC reported that within three months of the ban, stores distributed 277 million fewer plastic bags than usual.


A ban on the sale of non-biodegradable plastic bags that took effect on January 1 last year has a fine of 100 euros for violation of the law. According to a survey conducted by the World Wide Fund for Nature in 2005, 83% of French people agreed to ban the use of disposable plastic bags in supermarkets.


As part of a larger packaging tax introduced in 1994, Denmark imposed a tax on plastic bags. The stated goal is to promote the use of reusable bags. However, the tax is paid by the retailer when purchasing the bags, not by the shoppers. Compared with the Irish PlasTax, the effect is not so significant, which directly charges the consumer for every bag used. Nevertheless, the consumption of paper and plastic bags fell by 66%.


The Andalusia region recently approved Spain's first tax on disposable plastic bags (5 Euro cents), which will be introduced in 2011. Andalusia has a population of 8.3 million and can raise 100 million euros next year, which is twice as long as when taxes will double in 2012. Other autonomous regions in Spain, such as Catalonia, have the goal of reducing single-use plastic bags, but have not taken measures-taxes or bans-to achieve this goal.

In other countries such as Germany, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands or Hungary, large supermarkets charge for plastic bags.

Various initiatives and campaigns are being carried out in different parts of Europe to push the authorities to take action on plastic bags. The EU has no specific policy on plastic bags.

On July 3, 2010, the first International Bagless Day was coordinated by Fundació Catalana de Prevenció de Residus i Consum and GAIA.

If you happen to know other European campaigns or policies against plastic bags, please let us know.

Phasing out plastic bags in Europe and replacing them with reusable bags is part of the European zero waste strategy; it reduces waste, reduces costs, promotes sustainability, and is good for the environment and our landscape.

Finally, we provide you with a video about the longevity of plastic bags used to advance the plastic bag ban in California:

"Until a few years ago, we were still living in an environment without plastic bags, and in the future we will continue to live in an environment without plastic bags."

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