End to free plastic bags a “success” as consumption halved

Plastic shopping bags (Photo: EdouardHue/Wikimedia Commons)Plastic shopping bags (Photo: EdouardHue/Wikimedia Commons)

The ban on free plastic shopping bags, implemented on January 1st, is bearing fruit of success. Since the implementation, all retailers report a decrease in plastic bag consumption of at least 50 percent, some large retailers even go as far as 85 percent, Trouw reports based on own investigation.

Umbrella organization for Dutch retail RND reports a 50 percent decrease for its members. "And that concerns mainly shoe and fashion shops", secretary Jeroen van Dijken said to the newspaper. Most consumers still take a plastic bag at these type of stores "A customer, after all, will not simply walk out the store with a shoe box under his arm."

Department stores report bigger decreases. Action saw a decrease of 60 percent. Etos drugstore and department store Hema report 85 percent decrease.

Wholesalers who supply plastic bags confirm the figures. F&F Verpakkingen reports a bag sale drop of about 60 to 70 percent. Sales to private retailers dropped about 50 percent - private retailers are ordering fewer plastic bags, but more paper ad cotton bags.

Vera Dalm, director of environmental information organization Milieu Centraal also confirms that "all clients" report a "huge difference" compared to before 2016. She is amazed that such a seemingly minor change can cause such a massive shift. She calls it pure environmental profit. Because while some shoppers will go for a paper bag - which is not necessarily better for the environment - "most Dutch seem brave enough to bring a bag from home".

So far the Environment and Transport Inspectorate issued 17 warning letters to businesses who don't comply with the free plastic bag ban. No fines were issued as of yet.