Plastic Shopping Bags Banned in Iceland

Vala Hafstað

Since January 1, stores in Iceland may no longer offer plastic shopping bags to customers, mbl.is reports. This applies to the thicker, traditional shopping bags, as well as to thinner, smaller kinds of plastic bags, previously available in the fruits and vegetable section of grocery stores.

Rolls of plastic bags may, however, still be sold in stores.

Shopping bags other than plastic ones may still be offered to customers, but a fee must be charged for them in order to encourage the use of reusable bags.

A statement on the government’s website explains that the plastic bag ban is in accordance with a European directive aimed at reducing the use of plastic bags. In addition, the ban was part of a list of measures delivered in 2018 to Minister for the Environment Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson by a consultation platform on solutions to plastic waste.

The ban is among numerous measures taken by the Icelandic government aimed at reducing the use of plastic, increasing recycling and preventing plastic pollution of the ocean.

As stated on the European Commission’s website, “Lightweight plastic carrier bags are often used only once, but– they take centuries to fully degrade in the natural environment. Before this happens, they often get ingested by terrestrial or marine animals, or break up into microplastics. Either way, they end up in the human and animal food chain.” 

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