Study: shopkeepers see substantial reduction in use of plastic bags

Since the introduction of the ban on giving out free plastic bags, shopkeepers have seen consumers alter their behaviour. Now that consumers have to pay to have their shopping bagged, the use of plastic bags has fallen by 71 percent. This has emerged from a new study, conducted by research bureau SAMR under the authority of the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment.

Enlarge image Ban results in fewer plastic bags
Image: ©Ministery of Infrastructure and Environment

Environment Minister Dijksma introduced the measure last year in order to combat plastic waste. A nationwide survey by Rijkswaterstaat has shown that the ban has already resulted in a 40 percent decrease in the number of plastic bags ending up as litter.

‘The Netherlands was one of the first countries to ban free plastic bags in order to tackle plastic litter,’ says Environment Minister Dijksma. ‘The results show that the ban on giving out plastic bags for free is bearing fruit. Considerably fewer bags are crossing the counter. This is a major gain for the environment. Not only is the production of bags going down, the ban also tangibly reduces the volume of plastic waste on the streets and in the water.’

Customers use their own bags

The SAMR study involved a survey among 300 shopkeepers. Food retailers such as bakers and butchers, but also market vendors see six in ten customers bringing their own bags. Among department stores, this comes down to some 40 percent. The study also reveals that three in ten shopkeepers now offer a free paper bag in lieu of the plastic bag. As the primary reason for doing so, they state that they consider a free paper bag more customer-friendly than asking money for a plastic bag.

According to the SAMR study, the majority of the shopkeepers interviewed take a positive stance towards the ban, because of the positive effects for the environment. A survey among bag producers and wholesalers shows that they have perceived a similar decrease (60 to 80 percent) in the volume of plastic bags supplied to the shopkeepers.