The government of Germany is planning to ban single use plastic bags from 2020, in a move to join other global powers in efforts to combat worldwide pollution. This announcement was made by the Svenja Schulze, the environment minister of the country. The ban will especially impact retailer businesses such as super markets. These businesses will be stopped from providing consumers with lightweight carrier bags at checkout stations.

In addition, the ban will also cover those plastic bags that have been labeled as biodegradable, and even those variants that are made from renewable materials instead of petroleum. Minister Schulze who belongs to the center left Social Democrats introduced the proposal, which they hope to turn into a law.

The bans will go into effect in the first half of 2020. Violations in the new regulation by businesses could result in major fines that could go up to EUR 100,000. The development is rapidly gaining substantial importance, as plastic pollution is a major ecological challenge, especially in oceans and waterways. Plastic has already resulted in the death of birds and marine creatures, in addition to dirtying beaches, while generating massive floating patches of garbage in the ocean.

Germany Surpasses Target Set by EU

The proposal to ban plastic bags comes on the heels of a voluntary commitment introduced by the government for retailers to stop the free supply of plastic bags to consumers. The 2016 move resulted in a major reduction of plastic bags per capita – from 68 to 24 in a year. This reduction has already surpassed the EU target of 40 bags per person per year by 2025.

An increasing number of retailers across the country have already removed plastic bags from their operations, as more and more consumers are bringing their own nets and multi-use bags when they go out to shop.

On one hand, HDE, the german trade association has criticized the proposed ban as a breach of trust by the government. On the other hand, environmental groups have argued that the proposal does not go far enough as state surcharges were not included.

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