A German packaging trade group is criticizing media reports that highlight problems related to plastic bag disposal.
Earlier this month the European Commission announced a proposal that would give European Union member states the freedom to choose the measures they find most appropriate for reducing bag usage. Its primary reason for the proposal is the pollution caused by lightweight bags, particularly in the marine environment.
In a statement, the Industrievereinigung Kunststoffverpackungen e.V. (IK), which represents packaging producers, pointed out that 98 percent of all plastic packaging is disposed of in Germany's recycling system.
"Against this background the association regrets current media reports, which did not paint a very differentiated picture," said IK.
"On the contrary, reports created the impression that there are considerable problems with the disposal of plastic carrier bags in Germany. IK however sees possibilities for optimization in the area of disposal systems in some countries adjacent to the sea."
IK said taxing carrier bags, which is one reduction method suggested by the commission, is not constructive in the context of pollution.
"Only suitable disposal systems in combination with educating the population will prevent marine litter on a large scale," said IK managing director Ulf Kelterborn.
The association also criticized pressure groups in Germany. It said: "IK feels that the fact that certain groups within Germany still call for bans despite comprehensive disposal has purely political reasons.
Demands for bans by plastic opponents also give the consumer the feeling of doing something 'great' for the environment. Studies show, however, that the environmental impact of plastic carrier bags is comparatively negligible."
IK also raised the possibility of some European carrier bag manufacturers looking into the potential for a legal challenge to any bag bans in EU countries, on the grounds that this may infringe against the principle of free movement of goods.