What does the ban on free plastic bags entail for consumers?

With effect from 1 January 2016, you will no longer be provided with a free plastic bag in shops. However, the use of plastic bags is still allowed. You must pay the shopkeeper if you wish to purchase a plastic bag. Bringing your own shopping bag will reduce the use of plastic bags.

Ban also extends to reusable and biodegradable bags

The ban on free plastic bags covers all types of plastic, including bags with a plastic lining or coating. The ban on free plastic bags also extends to plastic bags made of biodegradable plastic or bio-based plastic.

Paper bags, gunny sucks and cloth bags remain free of charge

Shopkeepers are permitted to give paper bags, cloth bags, and gunny sacks away free of charge. The ban does not cover such bags. The ban does extend to paper bags or gunny sacks with a plastic coating or lining. 

Price of plastic bags

Shopkeepers are free to fix the price they charge for a plastic bag. The government has not set down a minimum or maximum price. The recommended price is EUR 0.25. Many supermarkets are already charging this amount.

When are free plastic bags allowed?

In some situations, consumers will still be provided with a plastic bag free of charge. You will receive a free plastic bag if this is necessary to:

  • protect loose foodstuffs from dirt and pathogens;
  • contain seepage from raw fish, raw meat, or raw poultry in a non-sealed packaging;
  • combat wastage of food;
  • put fluids, aerosol cans and gels purchased in a duty-free shop (for example, at Schiphol Airport) in a sealed bag.

Monitoring by ILT

The Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT) monitors compliance with the ban on free plastic bags. To this end, it is permitted to check sales outlets and conduct administrative inspections. Shopkeepers must be able to demonstrate that they are charging consumers for plastic bags, rather than giving them away free of charge. Violations of the ban on free plastic bags may be reported to the ILT.