Friday, November 21, 2008

Countries who acknowledge the plastic bag threat.

In Australia shoppers are now encouraged to buy bags called "green bags" which cost about a dollar, but can be reused many times. The bags are coloured depending on the company that sells them. Some "green bags" are insulated for the carrying of hot or cold items. Locally, the town of Coles Bay, Tasmania banned plastic shopping bags in April, 2003. In early 2008, the Australian Federal Government stated it would consider action that would result in plastic bags being phased out by the end of 2008. Australians used 4.84 billion plastic bags in 2007, at a wholesale cost of $0.0018 each. The bags each weigh 35grams and are used to wrap many Australian products such as fruits and vegetables. The shopping bags themselves account for 10% or less of the plastic Australian shoppers carry home from supermarkets. In South Australia free single use plastic bags will banned as of the end of 2008.

Plastic shopping bags are illegal in Bangladesh, where they are thought to cause flooding during monsoons by clogging drains.

Plastic shopping bags have been illegal in Bhutan, on the grounds that they make the country less happy.
However, the ban has not been successful at all and no current initiatives address the issue. Alternatives to plastic bags are not being encouraged, segregation of any waste is not currently undertaken and recycling or waste-energy facilities are not available within the country.

Beginning on June 1 2008, for the entire country of China, all supermarkets, department stores and shops will be prohibited from giving out free plastic bags. Stores must clearly mark the price of plastic shopping bags and are banned from tacking that price onto products. The production, sale and use of ultra-thin plastic bags - those less than 0.025 millimeters, or 0.00098 inches, thick - are also banned. The State Council calls for "a return to cloth bags and shopping baskets.In this environment, there is a Chinese environmental protection bag manufacturers, they have their own brand: the source of one mind, their company, based in Beijing, the capital of China.

Hong Kong enjoys a set of different laws as one of China's Special Administrative Regions. The city has not prohibited the use of giving out free plastic bags yet even if the problem is of growing concern. Supermarkets play a large role in giving out free plastic bags for their customers. The problem has raised awareness amongst the people when a "No Plastic Bag Day" was launched back in 2006, a campaign co-organized by the Environmental Protection Department and several green groups such as Green Student Council, Friends of the Earth, The Conservancy Association and Green Power. However, as the campaign is voluntary and only takes place on the first Tuesday of each month, it did very little to halt the problem. Government statistics show that the city currently disposes of 23 million bags a day. For a city of almost 7 million, this means an average of 3 bags disposed of per person per day. In December 2007, a Product Eco-responsibility bill was introduced. The bill proposes charging 50 cents HKD per plastic bag, with phase one being implemented in 2009. It is hoped that this bill will not only reduce the plastic bag problem the city faces, but also bring in 100,000,000 HKD per year.

Growing awareness of the ecological impact of plastic bags has led main mass retailers to force customers to buy reusable plastic or non-woven bags. This has been adopted by supermarkets such as Carrefour, which has managed to improve its image and save itself the purchase of the former plastic bags. Nonfood related retailers such as Cloth tend to prefer to switch to paper bags, allowing them to match the ecological demand and upgrade their image on two aspects: ecology and quality. In Paris, a ban on plastic bags will take effect in late 2007; a nationwide ban is scheduled to take effect on 1 January 2010.

In Spain, supermarkets give free plastic bags except some as Día which charge 3 cents per bag. Recently, Spanish Government wants to adopt the National Plan of Integrated Waste which has among its objectives in 2010 to ban plastic bags single-use non-biodegradable.

Spain is the leading producer of plastic bags for a single use and the third consumer in Europe. Each year 10,500 million plastic bags are distributed in Spain, with a total weight of 96,000 tons. 62% of plastic bags are reused as garbage bags and 10% are recycled through the yellow containers.

Generally, most German supermarkets charge between 5 and 25 cents per single-use bag, depending on the type of bag. Most shops also offer cloth bags or sturdier, woven plastic bags for about €1, encouraging shoppers to re-use them. Many high-street retail shops will provide bags free of charge. Most people will re-use single-use shopping bags, i.e., for collecting deposit bottles or using them as bin liners.

On March 4, 2002 the Republic of Ireland introduced a €0.15 levy on every plastic shopping bag. This led to a 90% reduction in use of plastic bags and increased use of reusable bags. The money gathered by the levy was used to raise money for environmental initiatives. Many retailers in Ireland switched to supplying (untaxed) paper bags, or simply stopped supplying bags. Most supermarkets continued to supply plastic bags, subject to the tax. The charge was increased to €0.22 on July 1, 2007. Most supermarkets supply reusable woven bags, or heavy reusable plastic bags for about €1.00

The entire country of Israel has enacted legislation to add a surcharge for every plastic bag. Bags that contain fish, meat, poultry or fresh produce won't incur any charge. Aside from that, every plastic bag given to a customer will incur a charge of 1 NIS which will be shown as a separate item on their receipt. The proposal will also subsidize for 6 months the sale of reusable bags, in order to create public awareness of the law.

In recent years cloth bags have been promoted and sold by some supermarkets as an alternative to plastic bags. In August 2006 the Collingwood community in Golden Bay declared itself shopping bag free by a group of local residents who promoted the idea. In early 2007 a nationwide campaign was kicked off with the aim of introducing a shopping bag levy similar to Ireland's.

In the town of Wanaka in the South Island the Bag the Habit Campaign has converted almost 50% of shoppers to say no to plastic bags. This saves around 1,500 plastic bags from ending up in the landfill every day. Wanaka has a permanent population of around 7,000 and visitor numbers of around 600,000. 30% of retail stores are now plastic bag free and Wanaka looks set to have the first plastic bag free supermarket in New Zealand with the 4 Square supermarket committing to removing plastic bags from their operation within 12 months. The end goal is for the town to be plastic bag free and over summer campaigners will be targeting the masses of visitors that come to enjoy the natural beauty of the town.

Mohammed Valli Moosa, the Environment and Tourism Minister of South Africa, jokingly named plastic bags the "national flower" of that country, and worked to introduce a minimum legal thickness of 30 micrometres to increase their cost, reusability, and recyclability. They may not be legally given away to shoppers, and must instead be sold; however this rule is not always enforced strictly. The South African government collects a 3 cents per shopping bag environmental levy.

The littering of plastic shopping bags has created major environmental problems throughout Turkey. Currently, Turkish people use on average 1.2 bags per day each, most of which end up not being disposed of properly. The government has launched a feasibility study into the movement towards envirobags; however, this is not due until late 2008. However, Turkey has made the most success over the past time.

In the United Kingdom, plastic shopping bags are commonly known as carrier bags.

Growing awareness in the United Kingdom of the problems caused by indiscriminate use of plastic bags is encouraging some large retailers to reward customers who bring their own bags or who reuse or recycle announced on 13 November 2007 that the 10th London Local Authorities Bill would include a provision to ban the distribution of free throw-away shopping bags in the capital. The London Local Authorities (Shopping Bag) Bill was deposited in Parliament on 27 November 2006. If the Bill is passed by Parliament, it is expected to become law by mid-2009.

On 12 January 2008 Girton, Cambridgeshire became the first village in the East of England to declare itself a "Plastic Bag Free Community". The scheme comes from Sustainable Girton, an environmental group made up of local residents.

On 28 February 2008 Marks and Spencers announced that with effect from 6th May 2008 it will begin charging customers 5p per bag in order to bring awareness to ecological living. All the money raised will be on single use carrier bags in 2009.

Plastic bags have largely displaced paper bags as the most common type of shopping bag during the late 1980s and early 1990s. There has been no broad government action against the litter problem; proper household waste management (reuse when possible and not littering) is considered a personal responsibility or a locally enforced misdemeanor. Some local governments have enacted ordinances, and many stores allow customers to return the bags for recycling. Empty bags carried on the wind are popularly known as "urban tumbleweed."

On March 27, 2007, the City and County of San Francisco became the first city to ban common plastic shopping bags, followed shortly thereafter by nearby Oakland. Since July 1, 2007, all large supermarkets in the state of California will be required, by law, to take back and recycle plastic shopping bags.

Portland, Oregon is next to ban plastic bags according to Thanh Tan of news Channel KATU.

Plastic shopping bags are banned in at least 30 villages and towns in Alaska, including the towns of Emmonak, Galena, and Kotlik.

Seattle, Washington recently proposed a 20 cent "green fee" on plastic bags, which would go into effect on January 1, 2009. The fee was proposed by Mayor Greg Nickels and approved by city council July 28, 2008. Just days after its passage, opponents to the fee mobilized a petition to remove it; a referendum has been placed on the November 2008 ballot to block its implementation.

Los Angeles, California has also placed a ban on plastic bag starting in 2010.

New York City is considering a 6 cent plastic bag tax noticing its success in Ireland. The tax is being advertised to the public as environmentally friendly and an innovative way to raise needed revenue. If this tax is to take effect, state approval is required.

IKEA, the home furnishings retailer, imposes its own charge for plastic shopping bags in the US — charging $0.05 to any customer who wants a plastic sack.[39] A similar charge has been in place since spring 2006 at IKEA stores in the UK, and the company says it has reduced use of bags in UK stores by 95 percent. IKEA hopes the 5-cent fee in the U.S. cuts bag use in half, from 70 million bags a year to 35 million.

The island of Zanzibar banned the import and use of plastic shopping bags in November 2006. People who litter used bags are responsible for a significant problem, and government officials enacted the ban to protect tourism, an economic mainstay for the island.


NemuriNeko said...

I realise this is a very old post, but I just thought you might be interested to know that although plastic bags were meant to be banned in Spain, they aren't. I was trying to figure out why on Google the other day, but I didn't find anything. I assume it's all down to the money? All I know is that one of the last times I used a plastic bag in Spain, it broke about 3 minutes after leaving the supermarket! All they have done now is start selling the plastic bags in more and more supermarkets, and I think that's helped reduce, but not solved the problem. I hope more and more countries start banning the bags.

Great blog, by the way, I just found it today, and I already shared it on Facebook and added it to the links on my newly-created blog (

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