Germany plans to ban single-use plastic bags from next year, joining a growing movement to fight global pollution, the environment minister said Friday, September 6th, AFP has reported.
Supermarkets and other retailers will be barred from offering lightweight plastic carrier bags at their checkouts, including those now marketed as being biodegradable, or being made from renewable sources instead of petroleum.
"The vast majority of Germans want this ban," said Environment Minister Svenja Schulze of the centre-left Social Democrats, introducing the initiative that she hopes to soon turn into law.
Breaches of the ban, set to take effect in the first half of next year, would threaten businesses with fines of up to $110,000, according to a report by Bild newspaper.
Plastic pollution, especially in waterways and oceans, is a major ecological hazard, as it injures or kills marine and bird life, fouls beaches, and creates giant floating garbage patches in oceans.
This should also cover paper bags, which degrade faster but still use up vast resources and energy in their production, green activists say.
The planned ban in 2020 does not cover the very thin tear-off plastic bags commonly found at supermarket fruit and vegetable counters.
The fear is that banning them would lead growers to pre-package fruits and greens in bulk in plastic, which could ultimately lead to more food wastage, the ministry said.
Under Germany's planned law, a six-months transition period would allow retailers to reduce their remaining stocks before the prohibition takes effect.