PLASTIC BAGS
New study finds that German carrier bags consumption is significantly lower than elsewhere in Europe / Majority of consumers use bags more than once / Research calls EU proposals on bans unnecessary and unconstructive
German plastic bags consumption is low compared to the rest of Europe, a new study by the German Society for Packaging Market Research (GVM, Mainz / Germany; www.gvmonline.de) found. With 6 bn plastic carrier bags put into circulation in the country in 2012, per capita annual bag consumption stood at 76, whereas the European average comes to 198 bags per inhabitant per year (see Plasteurope.com of 06.11.2013 and 08.11.2013).

Commissioned by the German Association for Plastic Packaging and Film (Industrievereinigung Kunststoffverpackungen, IK, Bad Homburg; www.kunststoffverpackungen.de), the Platform for Plastics and Recovery (Beteiligungs- und Kunststoffverwertungsgesellschaft, BKV, Frankfurt / Germany; www.bkv-gmbh.de) and the German Retail Association (Handelsverband Deutschland, HDE, Berlin / Germany; www.einzelhandel.de), the study found that bags are often used again in Germany and disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner. The researchers found that carrier bags account for only 3% of German plastic packaging consumption, and make up 0.17% in the composition of municipal waste. That low figure shows the limited impact they have on the German waste stream, GVM asserts.

The study also indicates that 48% of all plastic carrier bags are reusable, pointing out that 72% of consumers use such bags more than once. Across the country, only 11% of food and chemist’s products sold in retail chains is taken home in plastic bags used for the first time – mostly thanks to the fact that the industry decided several decades ago already to hand out carrier bags against a fee only. The use of plastic bags is further curtailed by the availability of alternatives, including bags made of cotton or non-woven plastic material.

That is why, the study asserts, proposed EU interventions, including the prohibition of plastic bags with a film thickness of less than 50 µm (see Plasteurope.com of 20.01.2014), are not necessary and also not constructive. For one, such measures would take off the market bags that are perfectly suitable for reuse, and secondly, customers might respond by simply switching to bags with a higher wall thickness. In addition, GVM states, Germany does not face the problem of plastic bags polluting its environment, since 99% of bags are recycled.
26.02.2014 Plasteurope.com [227655-0]
Published on 26.02.2014
IK: Umweltrelevanz von K-Tragetüten in Deutschland geringGerman version of this article...

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