Photo: Albert Heijn
Netherlands retailer Albert Heijn has announced it is to remove all plastic bags from its fruit and vegetable departments and replace them with reusable, washable alternatives. In a statement, the company said the bags would disappear from its stores by the end of 2021, a move that will end the use of around 130m individual bags – or 243 tos of plastic – per year. A return system for the 31m bags used every year to deliver groceries to homes will also be introduced, it said, resulting in about 645 tons of plastic per annum being recycled responsibly.
According to the statement: “Everyone knows the plastic bags in the fruit and vegetable department Handy for loose apples or green beans, but bad for the environment if you don’t recycle them properly.”
For a two-week period from mid-April, all Albert Heijn customers in the Netherlands will receive a free reusable bag for fresh produce that is weighed in store before being purchased.
Draft rules requiring EU countries to cut use of the most polluting plastic bags will be put to a vote in Strasbourg today.
With pollution of water bodies and aquatic ecosystems a major environmental problem, the law would require EU member states to choose between two options:
- take measures to ensure that average yearly consumption does not exceed 90 lightweight bags per citizen by 2019 and 40 by 2025, or
- ensure that, by 2018, these bags are not handed to shoppers free of charge.
According to the European Parliament website, in 2010, every EU citizen used an estimated 198 plastic carrier bags, some 90% of which were lightweight. Estimates suggest more than eight billion plastic carrier bags became litter in the EU the same year.
Carrefour also seeking alternatives to plastic bags for loose fruit and vegetables
French retail giant Carrefour said in its recently published 2014 annual report that it stopped handing out free plastic bags in 2012 in consolidated stores in all its countries except Argentina and Brazil, where the process is underway.
“In anticipation of future European regulations, the Group is working to identify alternatives to the plastic bags currently used for loose purchases of fruits and vegetables,” it also said.
source: EU Parliament
image: By Trosmisiek (Public domain) via Wikimedia Commons