Ban on free plastic bags in the Netherlands

On January 1st, 2016, the Netherlands banned the distribution of free plastic bags. The European Union forces the Member States to take measures against the unbridled use of the plastic bag. From all the distributed bags, a significant part of them end up in the environment, and contribute to the plastic soup. It is the first legal action against the plastic soup taken by the Dutch government.

However, is it really an effective ban? For hygienic reasons and to reduce food waste, the ultra thin plastic bags will continue to be provided to markets and vegetable sections in supermarkets. The measure also states that shop owners may choose for themselves the amount of money that should be paid for each bag. They do not have to follow the target price of 25 cents per bag but can sell them for any price.

These ´loopholes´ are the result of a very strong lobby by the packaging industry conducted last year. They even mislead the people by saying that “from all the tested bags, plastic bag is the best choice in terms of environmental impact.” In the report they referred to, however, harmful effects of plastic in the environment (plastic soup), were completely ignored.