German plastics packaging: Ulf Kelterborn, head of IK business association, talks to about plastic bag bans
Against the background of the European Commission's consideration to ban plastic bags, spoke to Ulf Kelterborn, head of Germany's packaging producers association Industrievereinigung Kunststoffverpackungen (IK, Bad Homburg; to get his take on ongoing events. Are there any new insights in the European discussion on a possible plastic bag ban?

Kelterborn: IK defined its position on this matter a year ago. We believe that a ban on plastic bags constitutes a clear violation of both EU and international trade laws. This stance was recently confirmed by a European Commission study, according to which it would be judicially impossible to enforce such a ban. Interestingly, the study also found that national plastic bag bans implemented by EU member states like Italy for example are not compatible with EU jurisprudence. German environmental group Deutsche Umwelthilfe recently launched judicial proceedings against the country's large supermarket chains for labelling bioplastic bags as "biologically degradable" (see of 25.04.2012). What is IK's take on this matter?

Kelterborn: We carved out our position on this matter last year as well. At present, there simply is no material that degrades on its own within a short timeframe. Yet, this is exactly what the "biologically degradable" claim suggests. That is why it is quite legitimate to talk about consumer deception. Several supermarket chains have already responded by immediately withdrawing the bags. What do you think should be the focus of the ongoing discussion?

Kelterborn: There is no justification for banning or otherwise legally discriminating against bags made of conventional plastic. Countries should instead impose a fee on such bags, as is customary in Germany and other EU member states. Such a disposal charge would make sure existing littering problems are solved as efficiently elsewhere as they are in Germany. Another environmental initiative IK has recommended the industry to take, is to encourage consumers to use robust plastic bags several times.
11.05.2012 [222305-0]
Published on 11.05.2012
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