Plastic bags on the loose

12th April 2016, Comments 0 comments

The Swiss parliament voted to ban the distribution of plastic shopping bags nearly four years ago.

It is still working on implementing the law, but in the meantime plastic bags are being used for all kinds of things all over Switzerland. Here's a snapshot.

The Swiss frequently re-use plastic bags, turning them into everything from bicycle seat covers to makeshift hats. But the bags also end up high in trees or floating in rivers and lakes, as our photographer found out when he went looking.

Although parliament officially banned stores from distributing plastic bags in 2012, they can still be found in most shops. The government and the Federal Environment Office are still working on how to put the law into practice.

Environment Minister Doris Leuthard said the plastic bag ban was unnecessary, since the Swiss system of rubbish disposal worked well.

But those arguing for the ban said plastic shopping bags require considerable petroleum and energy to produce and that it takes hundreds of years for a plastic bag to decompose out in the open. And when plastic is burned, as is most of Switzerland’s rubbish, dioxins are released.

Every year, Switzerland uses 3,000 tonnes of shopping bags, which account for 0.5% of the plastic used annually.


© / Christoph Balsiger
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