Plastic bags: shopkeepers risk fines of up to 100,000 euros

Since the end of last year Flemish retailers are no longer allowed to offer their customers free plastic bags.  The Flemish government hopes the measure will reduce the waste mountain.

Since last December shopkeepers are obliged to charge for plastic bags measuring between 15 and 50 microns in thickness.  The size of the charge is up to the individual shopkeeper, but plastic bags for fruit and veg and in clothes shops remain free.  

Checks are carried out.  So far there are no reports of anybody being fined, but fines can top 100,000 euros.

The price of the bag is intended as a deterrent.  Shopkeepers are not supposed to strike it rich selling bags. The retailers’ association UNIZO favours an “acceptable” charge, e.g. 10 or 20 cents.”

Some shopkeepers are charging up to 50 cents.

A survey conducted by VRT Radio 2 reveals that in most places the new legislation is being complied with.   Only on the market are vendors tempted to let you get away with a free plastic bag.

UNIZO reports few complaints.  People need to get used to the new situation it says.  A mentality switch is required.

Stores have been looking for solutions for ages.  Supermarket chain Carrefour allows you to bring your own receptacle to the fish and meat department.  Other supermarkets favour reusable packaging.

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