Luxembourg leads the way in cutting plastic bag use
(CS) The European Commission on Monday unveiled a proposal to cut the use of plastic carrier bags, with Luxembourg already leading the way with its “Öko-Tut” scheme.
Every year, each EU citizen uses around 200 lightweight shopping bags, creating a total of some 100 billion bags. And while many are recycled around eight billion still end up as waste, polluting the environment and the seas.
In a bid to cut overall plastic waste, countries around the EU, including Ireland and Germany, have been moving towards a system of reusable bags, made from canvas or more durable plastic.
In Luxembourg, the so-called “Öko-Tut” has replaced free plastic bags at supermarkets across the country. The colourful bags have become a staple in most Luxembourg households since their introduction in 2004.
Should shoppers ever forget them at home, lightweight plastic bags are still available, but at a cost of three cents per bag, with shoppers urged to re-use or recycle these bags.
Through this initiative, waste from plastic bags has been reduced by around 85 percent over the past nine years, with hopes to raise the number to 90 percent soon.
In Luxembourg, shoppers use only around 18 plastic carrier bags per year, far less than 70 bags used on average by German residents and the whopping 450 bags used by people in Poland, Slovakia or even Portugal on an annual basis.
In 2012, the “Öko-Tut” was awarded the European Commission's best practice award for waste prevention.
The directive proposed by the Commission would give member states two years to chose between one of three ways to cut plastic bag use, by introducing a charge for the bags, banning them or at least introduction national reduction targets.
The proposal still needs approval by the European Parliament, although it is uncertain whether the vote will take place before the parliamentary elections next year.
Find out more about the European Commission proposal here.