German Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens) has urged supermarket operators to comply with the current ban on plastic bags in stores. The markets should do their part to stem the tide of disposable plastic and quickly remove "cheat bags" that circumvent the ban from their assortments, Lemke told the German Press Agency.
The background is a practice in supermarkets and drugstores, which is also criticized by the German Environmental Aid (DUH). According to the report, supermarkets and discounters would simply make disposable plastic bags a few micrometers thicker in order to be able to offer them legally. This is possible because only plastic bags with a wall thickness of 15 to a maximum of 49 micrometers are covered by the ban, which has been in force since January 1, 2022.
"To lead the current law by the nose by simply making single-use bags minimally thicker is damaging to the environment. I hope that it does not need another legal regulation," the minister said, referring to the practice in supermarkets. The DUH had requested the Green politician to improve legally.
The environmental aid accuses markets of offering bags with wall thicknesses between 50 and 60 micrometers to circumvent the legal ban. This was the result of a survey of 13 German food retailers and drugstores, it said in a statement published on Thursday. Earlier, RTL/ntv had reported.
Lemke also pointed to limited room for maneuver in connection with the plastic bag ban. For example, EU law currently prevents a ban on thick-walled bags, Lemke said.
In Germany, 1.49 billion lightweight plastic bags with wall thicknesses of less than 50 micrometers were still in circulation in 2019 - before the ban came into force.