Estonia to ban free plastic bags in stores beginning July 2017 (9)

Such thin plastic bags are currently still available for free in Estonian supermarkets. (ERR)
8/25/2016 1:20 PM
Source: BNS
Category: Business

Citing an EU directive, the Estonian Ministry of the Environment plans on banning free lightweight plastic bags in stores beginning July 2017 and raising the price of heavier plastic shopping bags available in stores up to one euro apiece beginning in 2019.

An iconic symbol of our disposable society, single-use plastic bags have numerous adverse effets on the environment. A major source of pollution of the marine environment with potential effects on human health as well, single-use plastic bag are often used for just a few minutes, said the ministry.

Therefore, the EU directive sets forth measures to reduce the use of lightweight plastic shopping bags. One option, the free handut of smaller, lightweight plastic bags, which currently make up 97 percent of the total number of plastic bags distributed in stores, must be ended by 2019 at the latetst.

The purpose of the ban is to avoid a situation in which the consumer can take lightweight plastic carrier bags for free in order to substitute a more expensive plastic bag.

In addition, the consumption of plastic bags per person must be cut to just 90 bags per year by the end of 2019. Surveys carried out by the ministry and the Estonian Association of Retailers indicate that Estonian residents go through an average of about 40 plastic shopping bags and approximately 165 extra lightweght bags per year.

The new legislation would establish a minimum price for plastic bags at a level significantly higher than the current price point. This measure is aimed at encouraging people switch to using reusable fabric bags instead, authors of the legislation said.

With this measure, the seling price of plastic shopping bags will be raised to ta range between 30 cents and one euro per bag, compared to the current average cost of reusable textile bags available at retail outlets, which are now selling for 0.75 euros on average, a move which expects customers to opt for the latter as a more durable and less expensive altnative.

With the measure, the selling price of plastic carrier bags would be raised to the range from 30 cents to 1 euro, compared with 15 cents on the average now. Considering that the average price of bags made from fabric at retail outlets now is 0.75 euros, this is expected to make consumers opt for the latter as a more durable and less expensive alternative.

Editor: Aili Sarapik

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