Austria to ban most plastic carrier bags

Plastic carrier bags will soon be history in Austria.
03.07.2019 − 

Beginning next year, it will be illegal to sell or distribute plastic carrier bags in Austria. The ban adopted yesterday be the lower house of the Austrian Parliament allows for a transition period until the end of 2020, during which existing bag inventories can be sold. The new market restriction was passed as an amendment to the Austria's Waste Management Act. A motion which would have set a reduction target for all plastic packaging by 2025 failed to attract sufficient support.

The amendment bars the placing on the market of plastic carrier bags – with certain exceptions. Reusable bags with sewn seams and sewn handles are unaffected by the ban, as are some very light-weight bags commonly used in the fruit and vegetable section of grocery stores. To qualify for the exception, they must be made from predominantly renewable raw materials and be suitable for home-composting. Bags that have neither a handle nor a grip hole are not covered by the new regulations.

Additional provisions of the amendment establish the transition periods for bags which businesses already have in stock and create reporting obliga-tions for manufacturers and importers of plastic carrier bags and for waste collection companies and recyclers. Austria's sustainability minister, Maria Patek, described the ban on disposable plastic carrier bags as an essential contribution to waste management. Banning plastic carrier bags is expected to reduce plastic consumption by around 7,000 tonnes per year.

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