Germany to ban single-use plastic bags

German authorities have drafted a bill to fully ban single-use plastic bags from next year, news wires reported. Under the law, supermarkets and other retailers will be barred from offering lightweight plastic carrier bags at their checkouts, including those now marketed as being biodegradable or being made from renewable sources instead of petroleum.

“The vast majority of Germans want this ban,” Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said last week announcing the initiative that she hopes soon will turn into law. Breaches of the ban, set to take effect in the first half of next year, would threaten businesses with fines of up to €100,000, according to a report by Bild newspaper.

Germany's planned move follows the 2016 introduction of a voluntary commitment by the retail industry to no longer give plastic bags away for free. This helped drive a decline in use from 68 plastic bags per capita then to 24 last year, said the ministry.

Plastic pollution, especially in waterways and oceans, is a major ecological hazard as it affects marine and bird life, fouls beaches and creates giant floating garbage patches in oceans. Scientists warn that, as plastic slowly breaks down, the micro-particles enter food chains and end up in humans.

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