Consumption of single-use plastic bags in some 30 Swiss food retailers has dropped 86% since they introduced a small charge in 2016.
The charge of CHF0.05 (an American nickel) per bag was introduced voluntarily under a sectoral agreement in response to a parliamentary move that would have banned single-use plastic bags.
According to figures from the two federations that initiated the agreement - Swiss Retail Federationexternal link and CI CDSexternal link - Swiss consumers still bought 56 million single-use plastic bags in the shops in 2018. But this was down from 66 million in 2017 and nearly 418 million a year earlier.
The sectoral agreement signed in October 2016 proposed to cut the use of these bags by 70% to 80% by 2025, meaning that this target has already been met. The 30 signatory companiesexternal link include big Swiss food retailers like Migros, Coop, Denner, Aldi and Lidl.
The sector says these “encouraging” figures show that the federal government’s decision not to introduce a ban was the right one and that “voluntary initiatives by the sector can be more efficient”.
Under the sector agreement, single-use plastic bags remain free in convenience stores. The retail federations say people tend to make more spontaneous purchases in these stores and charging for bags is unlikely to have an impact.