Where are/aren't plastic bags allowed?

Directive (EU) 2015/720 of 29 April 2015 aims to further reduce the consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags.

Update : Nov 2018

High consumption of single-use plastic carrier bags, their inappropriate end-of-life treatment and their resistance to degradation are damaging the environment, notably marine ecosystems.

The consumption of plastic carrier bags varies across Europe.

Today, which European countries have already banned the free distribution of bags? The European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net) gives an overview for most of EU member states as well as Norway - consult our European map to know more!

Plastic bags are allowed to be given out by sellers only against a fee

Plastic bags are allowed to be given out by sellers for free but usually they are against a fee

Plastic bags are allowed to be given out by sellers for free

Czech Republic

Plastic bags are allowed to be provided for free, but all big chain stores supermarkets require minor payment. Major shops with clothing provide plastic bags for free. Change of legislation expected by the end of the year when giving out plastic bags for free shall be prohibited.

Malta

Plastic bags are allowed but usually provided by traders against a fee, commonly of 0,10 €

Spain

Plastic bags are allowed to be given out by sellers. Some traders give bags for free while most against a fee: 0. 05 €.

Germany

Plastic bags are allowed but usually provided against a fee: 0.10 to 0.30 €.

Germans are using an average of 71 bags per year at the moment. It is the will of the German legislator that the consumer has to pay fees for every single bag he/she is getting in a shop. The German minister for environment is pushing the traders to agree among themselves how much they want to charge for one bag (voluntary self-regulation). If they cannot agree on a specific amount on a voluntary basis in the near future, the German minister for environment is planning to determine this price by regulation.

United Kingdom

Plastic bags are allowed but usually provided against a fee: minimum of 5 pence.

Sweden

Plastic bags are allowed but usually provided against a fee: 0.20 to 0.50 €.

Belgium

Plastic bags are allowed but usually provided against a fee: 0.02 to 0.05 €.

Lithuania

Plastic bags are allowed but usually provided against a fee: 0.10 to 0.30 €.

Slovenia

Plastic bags are allowed but usually provided against a fee: 0.15 to 0.25 €.

Hungary

Plastic bags are allowed but usually provided against a fee depending on the size of the plastic bag (usually between 0.20 to 0.70 €).

Portugal

Plastic bags are allowed but usually provided against a fee: 0.10 €.

Italy

Plastic bags are forbidden to be given out by sellers for free. Indeed the consumer is asked to pay a fee for getting biodegradable bags ( 0.05 to 0.20 € based on size).

France

Plastic bags are allowed to be given out by sellers. Some traders give bags for free while others against a fee.

France is currently awaiting the government decree which should forbid plastic bags for unique use by July 1st 2016. Starting July 1st 2016 all plastic bags of a thickness of less than 50 micrometers offered for free or against payment will be forbidden. Starting January 1st 2017 should be forbidden also disposable bags and plastic coverings used for example for vegetables or cheese. But consumers will be offered with a choice to purchase reusable bags of more than 50 micrometers or paper bags.

Plastic bags of a thickness of more than 50 micrometers offered for free or against payment are allowed, as well as paper bags. The fee varies between approx. 0.10 € and a few € for fabric or carrier bags.

Netherlands

It is allowed to give out plastic bags only against a fee.

There are some exceptions on the ban that allow the seller to give out a (very thin) plastic bag for free.

  • If it is necessary to protect food from pollution or infection by disease pathogens. (e.g. strawberries or raw fish/meat).
  • If it is necessary to prevent the waste of food (e.g. single apples or small sandwiches).
  • Liquids, sprays and gels bought at a tax free shop at the airport or on a plane. They have to be sealed in a transparent plastic bag (e.g. drinks)

Sellers are free to determine the price. The recommended selling price of a plastic bag is 0.25 €.

Croatia

Plastic bags are allowed to be given out by sellers.

Poland

Plastic bags are allowed to be given out by sellers. Some traders give bags for free while others against a fee: 0.10 to 0.25 €.

Slovakia

Plastic bags are allowed but usually provided against a fee: 0.03 to 0.05 € for small plastic bags (but consumers usually also have the possibility to purchase bigger ones as well and also thicker ones, mostly from recycled materials).

Finland

Plastic bags are allowed to be given out by sellers.

Luxembourg

Plastic bags are allowed but usually provided against a fee. In 2012 the Ministry of Environment signed an agreement on promoting reusable and uniform plastic bags: shops can since then decide to demand a small fee prior to the distribution of plastic bags to consumers (0.03 €, 0.50 €, 0.70 €).

Ireland

Plastic bags are allowed but usually provided against a fee:  0.22c minimum fee but increases for a better quality bag.

Cyprus

Plastic bags are allowed to be given out by sellers but usually provided against a fee: 0.02 to 1.00 €.

Norway

Plastic bags are allowed. Some traders may ask for a fee: approximately 0.09 €.

Estonia

Plastic bags are allowed but usually provided against a fee: 0.10 to 0.20 €. Some retail shops offer a reduced price for paper bags to promote the use of those instead of plastic bags.

Latvia

Plastic bags are allowed but usually provided against a fee: 0.05 to 0.14 €.

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