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
2 views in november
I recommend
No recommendations yet


Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

Coalition partner the Social Democratic party (SDE) has announced its top riders for the March 2019 elections in Estonia's 12 electoral districts, though its full list will be confirmed in December, the party says. There are no real surprises on a well-stocked list which includes the recently-attracted Indrek Tarad, currently still an independent MEP. Mr Tarand, whilst standing for SDE, has not as yet become a party member. Since the system in Estonia is a...
According to Statistics Estonia, the change of the consumer price index in October 2018 was 0.5% compared to September and 4.4% compared to October of the previous year. Goods were 3.7% and services 5.7% more expensive compared to October 2017, while regulated prices of goods and services increased by 9.1%, and non-regulated prices by 3.1%. Compared to October 2017, the consumer price index was affected the most by transport, which contributed nearly a thi...
The Ministry of Culture has rejected the request of English-language web magazine Estonian World (EW) for support from the state to to the tune of €5,000 for the remainder of 2018. The ministry has, however, promised to seek opportunities for supporting the portal in 2019. "Unfortunately, the support to this extent of English-language Estonian media outlets is not provided for in the agenda and budget of the government-approved Compatriots Programme for th...
Last Wednesday, Theatre NO99 abruptly announced that it would be closing its doors, with its final performances scheduled for November and December. The theatre will be vacating a large building at the Central Tallinn address of Sakala 3, interest in which has been expressed by Sakala Skene, a new open centre for the performing arts and theatre education. Sakala Skene is a new brand uniting Polygon Theatre and Polygon Threatre School, Old Baskin's Theatre,...
The European Athletics Council has decided to award the right to host the European Athletics Under 20 Championships in 2021 to the Estonian Athletic Association, which will stage the event at Tallinn's Kadriorg Stadium. The same format was previously successfully hosted by the Estonian Athletic Association in 2011, in collaboration with the City of Tallinn. At the European Athletics Council meeting in Budapest, the Estonian bid to host the event was presen...
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has reopened the Estonian embassy in Budapest. The ministry announced the step on social media on Monday, saying that starting 5 November the embassy is offering consular services again. The embassy is providing consular services and assistance starting 5 November. Anyone who would like their documents issued there can indicate so on the application form, the ministry said. Consular services are available by advance appointm...
Every day, some 30 people in Estonia call the Health Board complaining that a family doctor in Tallinn won't take them as a patient even though they technically have room on their patient rosters to accept new patients. Family doctors, however, find that working with too large a patient list could jeopardise the quality and accessibility of their care. Estonian Society of Family Doctors chairperson Le Vallikivi explained to daily Postimees that they are fa...
Conservative People’s Party (EKRE) Riigikogu group chair Martin Helme has paid to boost his social media presence and used Riigikogu expenses benefits to pay for highlighting posts, a recent Riigikogu Chancellery document reveals. Postimees wrote earlier in the week about EKRE’s social media success and how their messages seem to reach more voters. Facebook’s company pages can be highlighted to reach more people. But the practice costs money. Bought posts...
40% of employers in Estonia intend to increase their employees' wage levels, while 39% are planning on creating new positions and 70% intend to hire new employees to replace outgoing workers and fill temporary or new positions, it appears from a survey conducted by recruitment portal and the Salary Information Agency. "40% of employers are planning to raise their employees' basic salaries, which is indicative of the wage pressures resulting fro...