According to a report in the „Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung“, all plastic carrier bags are affected except those that are completely biodegradable. Accordingly, the Austrian Ministry of the Environment is also planning a ban on the incorporation of microplastic in cosmetics and detergents. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) justified the step with the need to create environmental awareness – one wants to counteract the trend of the throwaway society, he said.
At the end of October, the European Parliament voted to ban long-term disposable plastic products. From 2021, a number of disposable products, such as straws, plastic utensils, cotton swabs and plastic bags, will be banned from the EU.
The European Commission’s proposal: these plastic products should be banned
With the ban in Austria about 7000 tons of plastic bags are to be avoided annually. One-way plastic bags are simply no longer needed, according to the Ministry of Environment. Many grocery stores already have good alternatives. „The ban will draw a clear line here,“ said Environment Minister Elisabeth Köstinger (ÖVP).
The environmental organization Greenpeace praised the plans. At the same time, she warned against replacing the plastic bags – called plastic bags in Austria – with bags made of paper or bio-plastic. Only returnable bags are actually environmentally friendly. One should not shift the problem to other materials.
Criticism from the economy
In the economy, the proposed ban provoked shared responses. „The now announced general ban is not necessary in our view,“ said Peter Buchmüller, chairman of the Federal Trade in the Economic Chamber (WKÖ).
„Trade is committed – of course – to environmental protection, as evidenced by the fact that the voluntary agreement with major retailers to reduce the consumption of plastic bags works very well,“ said Buchmüller in the WKÖ announcement. The fact is: „The free plastic bag is already practically history in Austrian trade, the consumption of plastic bags has declined massively.“
Buchmüller emphasized that an extension of the voluntary agreement to smaller trading companies was offered. „If it is now to come despite a plastic bag ban, the companies need support to offer their customers viable alternatives.“ In addition, it could not be „that once again only the Austrian trade, but not the foreign online mail order in the draw comes,“ criticized Buchmüller.
A regulation of the international on-line trade and consciousness formation with the consumer are crucial, was called also from the trade association. „However, we would like high-quality reusable plastic carrier bags to continue to be used for a fee, which will not be thrown away after a purchase“, demanded trade association managing director Rainer Will.
In Germany, the consumption of plastic bags has recently dropped significantly. Overall, the Germans reduced their consumption of plastic bags by about a third – to an average of 29 plastic bags per person. Germany even surpasses the requirements of the EU.