Another European country has revealed it intends to introduce a total ban on regular plastic shopping bags, prompting a switch to biodegradable bags by 2013.
The Balkan republic of Macedonia outlawed the issue of free plastic bags by its retailers in January 2009. Since then, shops have either charged for them or provided customers with paper bags instead. Shoppers have to pay 1 Macedonian denar (€0.016) per plastic bag, according to regional press reports.
In the past two years, the use of regular plastic bags in Macedonia has fallen by 40 – 50%, they add.
A change to the production of ‘green’ recyclable plastic bags will not present major difficulties for the 25 companies that manufacture plastic shopping bags in Macedonia, the state Economic Chamber of Macedonia is quoted by local news agency MIA as saying.
Producers would not have to invest in new equipment to turn out the compostable bags, although they would face the higher cost of introducing new additives to the process, observed Mirko Jakimovski, head of the chamber’s flexible packaging sector organisation.
He was quoted as pointing out that larger local supermarket chains like Vero and Tinex are selling biodegradable plastic bags to shoppers already. Under the latest legislation, Macedonian stores will be able to give away shopping bags free so long as they are biodegradable.
The regulation applies only for bags of 5 kg and less and is only valid for shops and market places. If clients want to use a plastic bag for goods that are heavier than 5 kg, they will have to pay for it.
Macedonia (FYROM) bans plastics bags