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No more plastic bags in Germany ?

If you are new to Germany, you might want to take one or two reusable bags with you on your next shopping spree.

More and more department stores, supermarkets, clothing shops and drug stores are no longer providing free plastic bags for their customers. They are either completely banned or only offered for an extra fee.

Others provide recyclable and reusable bags made of cardboard, paper, cotton or canvas for free or extra charge at their checkouts.

This trend is a direct response to an EU initiative to reduce the annual average consumption of plastic bags to 40 per head by 2025. Germany wants to take a lead in this, and has so far presented formidable numbers.

The average German consumer has developed a habit of using disposable plastic bags for multiple times. He consumes around 70 disposable plastic bags annually which is already lower than the EU target set for 2019 (90 bags/year).

According to Germany’s Federal Environment Ministry, around 240 companies in the retail sector have voluntarily committed to charge for plastic bags and some are already receiving positive feedback from their customers. Germany’s electronic giants Media Markt und Saturn for example have run trials and were able to reduce the demand for plastic bags by 80%. Some drugstores and clothing retailers have made similar positive experiences.

So if you ever find yourself in need of a bag to carry your bought items, you will often find them in front or under the conveyor belt. Their prices range from 0,20€ to 1,00€ depending on the bag material.


What is the situation in your country like?

Let us know in the comment section.


Extra: What does the future hold?

Recently, I came across innovative approaches to combat excessive plastic consumption.


Tütle – The all in one grocery-/trash bag made in Germany (Ger)

Tütle consists of 100% unbleached waste paper, coated in a layer of resin. Hence, the bag doesn’t tear if it is exposed to moisture. Tütle is designed to work as a durable grocery bag and is supposed to be transformed into an organic trash bag at the end of its lifecycle.


Biodegradable substitutes for plastic packaging (Ger)

More and more researchers are taking a deeper look at biodegradable material to substitute plastic packaging. The problem however is that most recycling facilities do not have modern equipment that can distinguish between biodegradables and plastic bags. Conequently, most end up in the waste combustion.
Nevertheless, the following videos showcase :

  • Bio-styrofoam packaging made of funguses (starting at 0:40)
  • Bio-plastic made of thistles (starting at 04:39)
  • Shrilk, Bio-plastic made of crab shells/chitin (starting at 08:49)

  • Bio-plastic made of seaweed (Watch in French)


Edible Packaging (Eng)