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Swiss parliament votes for bag ban

By: David Vink

December 14, 2012

BERNE, SWITZERLAND (Dec. 14, 11:30 a.m. ET) — Switzerland’s federal parliament has accepted a motion proposing to ban single-trip plastic shopping bags. The motion was introduced by Dominique de Buman, a member of the lower chamber of the federal parliament (Nationalrat).

In a Dec. 14 news release, the KVS Swiss plastics industry association said it regrets the decision, especially as arguments against the motion were presented by the federal council (Bundesrat) and an advisory commission.

KVS said: “This means setting off a legislative process to regulate a problem that does not exist in Switzerland. The parliament has opened up yet another area where it can patronize citizens and consumers – in this case without any recognizable benefits.”

The association points out that the plastic bags affected, which are issued free-of-charge in shops, only represent 0.5 percent of the total amount of plastics used in Switzerland.

KVS said the Swiss waste management system ensures 99 percent of all plastic waste arising in the country is already recycled or is used for thermal recovery for electricity generation or long-distance heating.

KVS criticized the motion for its suggestion that dioxins are emitted during incineration of plastic bags. It said: “Dioxins are compounds with groups containing chlorine, while the polyethylene used to make plastic bags contains no chlorine. Therefore, no dioxin arises in incineration.”

The association said Switzerland’s waste management system serves as an international example of best practice. It is a bad message to send “that we can’t manage plastic bags, as we are discrediting ourselves as problem solvers if we have no other solution for plastic bags than to prohibit them,” said KVS.