Bye Bye Plastic Bags towards fewer short-lived bags

In line with the waste hierarchy, the avoidance of waste has top priority. Plastic carrier bags serve a variety of purposes and will continue to be used in the future. For ecological reasons, however, it is advisable to reduce the number of plastic carrier bags.

At the market, a woman carries a plastic bag of groceries.
Plastic bags in everyday life, photo BMLRT / Christoph Fuchs

In cooperation with renowned commercial enterprises, Greenpeace and Global 2000, the Federal Ministry has concluded a voluntary agreement to reduce plastic carrier bags.

It is based on an amendment to the EU Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste, according to which Member States are required to phase out the number of plastic carrier bags to annually no more than 90 plastic bags per person by 2019.

The Federal Ministry's voluntary agreement goes beyond the EU Directive’s target. In accordance with the former Federal Minister Rupprechter’s political objective, the agreement’s goal is ambitious: a maximum of 25 plastic carrier bags per person a year and, additionally, a reduction of single-use carrier bags also made of other materials such as paper.

What does the agreement say?

From now on, single-use plastic carrier bags (in all materials) will only be issued against a charge (with the exception of so-called produce bags available for fresh goods such as in fruit and vegetable departments). To achieve a reduction in this particular area as well, these bags are no longer available for free in the checkout area.

Further objectives are to improve customer information, encourage the use of multi-use carrier bags and promote environmental projects.

To be able to assess the progress, the BMLFUW will publish annual reports based on information supplied by the signatory companies.

Who are the partners who signed the agreement?

Up to now, the following companies/organisations signed the voluntary agreement of the Federal Ministry (in alphabetical order):

  • Bettenreiter
  • C&A
  • Deichmann
  • Handelsverband
  • Hofer KG
  • Lidl Österreich
  • Media/Saturn
  • M-Preis
  • REWE Group
  • Schäfer Shop GmbH
  • SPAR
  • Sutterlüty Handels GmbH
  • Tchibo/Eduscho
  • Unimarkt