Plastic bag use declines by around 20% in major Estonian chains

Consumption of plastic bags in major Estonian food retail chains has fallen by around 20% following the decision to charge for thinner plastic produce bags, in addition to the larger plastic bags which have incurred a charge for some years.

The development followed an EU Directive from 2016 which aimed at reducing consumption of plastic bags. An estimated 100 billion plastic bags are consumed per year across the EU, it has been claimed, with the bulk of these only being used once and then discarded.

As well as being wasteful, plastic pollution has been highlighted as a major problem globally, leading to vast 'islands' of floating plastic being spotted in the major oceans amongst other environmental damage.

The EU has set a goal of plastic bag usage of no more than 90 per person per year in an effort to reduce usage; the average amount of plastic bags used in Estonia is reported at a couple of hundred bags per person per year, according to an ERR radio news report.

Goodbye to free produce bags galore

Thinner plastic bags were previously freely available in Estonian stores, for instance being placed at or near customer checkout points. This encouraged people who were making smaller purchases in particular to take advantage of these free-of-charge thinner bags instead of paying for a larger bag.

However, within the last couple of years, the larger chain stores in Estonia agreed to put a stop to the practice of providing free thinner plastic bags for free, according to Katrin Bats, public relations officer from major supermarket chain Rimi.

''The decision made in 2016 by retail organizations to stop providing the thinner produce bags from free has meant that we need to order around 20% fewer of them than we had previously done,'' she explained.

Problem of plastic waste in the Baltic on the rise (1)

''Customers are gradually adopting a more environmentally-conscious mindset as well,'' she went on.

Rimi is headquartered in Riga, Latvia and is a subsidiary of Swedish retail group ICA. It has around 83 outlets in Estonia.

Thinner produce bags are still available in areas of supermarkets where, for instance loose fruit ad vegetables are on display; whether the cost of these is passed on to produce prices was not stated.

Use of larger plastic bags also falls as cheaper alternatives available

The use of larger plastic bags has seen an even bigger drop of 25%, according to Katrin Riisalu, purchasing director at Selver, an Estonian chain of stores and subsidiary of Tallinna Kaubamaja. There has at the same time been a rise in use of paper bags for taking shopping home, which are sold at a cheaper price than the larger plastic bags.

"The volume of paper bag sales has almost doubled, and many people make further use of the paper bags once they're home,'' she said.

Bags made from other materials, such as biodegradable plastic have not proved quite as popular, according to Katrin Riisalu, although many people bring their own reusable bag from home instead, she continued.

Maxima sees same trend but doesn't have non-plastic options yet

It was a similar story with the Lithuanian-owned Maxima, whose stores number around 75 across Estonia. Commercial director of Maxima Estonia, Marko Põder, who said that ''It is precisely because we no longer allow our customers to take a plastic bag, so it can be said that if these bags are not free to get free of charge, it turns out that they are not really needed," said Marko Põder, Head of Trade at Maxima, who said Maxima had seen a 24% drop in the use of thinner produce bags and 9% for the larger shopping bags.

Maxima does not currently offer any non-plastic alternatives, but intends to do so soon, Põder said.

''We will be sure to provide the option for customers to buy paper bags at our stores, either late on this year or early next year, and also have a firm plan to launch an information campaign to encourage people to re-use plastic bags,'' he said.
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
No rates yet
I recommend
No recommendations yet


Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

Chairman of the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and one of the owners of construction group Nordecon, Toomas Luman, finds that a prime ministerial candidate should first and foremost be able to answer the question of what will become of the demographic crisis in Estonia. The businessman sees controlled introduction of foreign labor as the solution. A digital construction cluster was created in Estonia a few years back to bring innovation to the s...
Last year saw 27,125 registered offenses, up 0.5 percent from the year before. Violent crime was up by 12 percent to 8,249 offenses. PHOTO: Dominic Lipinski / PA Wire / Press Association Images / Scanpix Growth was biggest for domestic violence – the police launched criminal proceedings in 3,607 cases that constitutes an increase of more than one-third – annual growth of 37 percent from 2,632 cases in 2017. At the same time, reports of domestic violence we...
TALLINN - Ahead of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, tens of thousands of British citizens have chosen the citizenship of some other country, but only one Brit has recently chosen an Estonian citizenship. Spokespeople for the Ministry of the Interior told BNS that only one British citizen submitted an application for Estonian citizenship last year and the applicant was also granted the citizenship. Before that, no Brits had soug...
TALLINN - Experts from Finland, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands highlighted the importance of decentralization and granting local governments greater decision-making powers at a conference titled "Strong local government -- strong state?" in Tallinn on Wednesday.  All Nordic countries have chosen a model granting local governments significant decision-making powers, thus the central government does not prescribe how local governments are to fulfill the...
The language learning application Drops by game developer Planb Labs, established in Estonia by Hungarian founders, was named Google Play's best app of 2018. With the number of downloads surpassing 10 million, Drops was named Google's app of the year as the revenue of Planb Labs, a company registered in Estonia, increased fivefold, CNBC said. The developer's revenue grew from €335,000 in 2017 to €1.7 million in 2018. The company's shareholders include Hung...
TALLINN - The Estonian Health Board has banned the distribution of chlorine dioxide, also marketed as the Miracle Mineral Supplement (MMS), the A-component of an unused product, meaning the sodium chlorite solution, must be taken to a hazardous waste collection facility. Ester Opik, head of the Health Board's North regional department, said that the banning of the distribution of the product was caused by the fact that MMS, distributed as a cosmetics produ...
Nature cannot abide a vacancy, as the saying goes. If just one year ago, Estonia was battling the sale of MMS and the practice of giving it to children, a new “miracle cure” called Advanced TRS has appeared on the market now. Even though the make-up of the substance is different, the promise to cure autism and cleanse the body of heavy metals, which kind of extreme detox is accompanied by severe side-effects, sounds all too familiar. TRS is recommended to...
Allied NATO battalions will soon mark two years serving in the Baltics. They have worked better than expected but would need prepositioned heavy weaponry and a functional contingency plan in case of a crisis, a report by the International Center for Defense and Security (ICDS) finds. “We do not know how Russia would have acted had we not welcomed allies in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland in 2017. I’m afraid they would have tested our resolve,” one of...
The time of filing income tax returns is nearly upon us. The new income tax system, in effect since last year, will obligate many women who went on maternity leave toward the end of the year to make additional income tax payments, while those who give birth in the middle or at the beginning of the year have no such obligation. What this means is that some women will owe the state simply for giving birth “at the wrong time”. Laura Roop, who went on maternit...