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The end of the plastic bag Aus fürs Plastiksackerl

24. March 2011

Austrian Ministry of the Environment starts project in co-operation with retail trade

Plastic bags are often regarded as a symbol for the throw-away society. Having sustainability and environmental protection on the top of the political agenda, several European countries started initiatives of abolishing plastic bags, primarily in supermarkets. The often discussed ban on plastic bags is not really an option as it contravenes EU legislation. Therefore the Austrian Ministry of the Environment started a program aiming at the step-by-step abolishment of the plastic shopping bag. As a first step a project in cooperation with the Austrian retail trade attempts to enforce the use of biodegradable packaging material. Regarding the fact that disposal of plastic bags is very difficult and the composting takes several hundred years, the main objects of the program are the improvement of environmental protection and the reduction of waste by finding alternatives for plastic bags.
For critics, however, arguments like environmental pollution or even reducing the dependence on oil by abolishing plastic bags are not relevant, as waste arising from plastic bags accounts for no more than 0,01 percent of total waste in Austria, and only a very small percentage of oil is used for the production of the bags.
Nevertheless the ministry´s project could be a further step towards sensitization on environmental protection. Representing the Austrian economy abroad, Advantage Austria also acts as a role model for sustainability by using representation bags made of paper.