Plastic shopping bags get the boot in parliament

Soon it'll be BYOB, or "bring your own bag" Keystone

Both houses of Swiss parliament have voted to forbid the distribution of plastic shopping bags, and it’s now up to the government to put the ban into action. Advocates say it will set a good example and prevent pollution.

This content was published on December 13, 2012 minutes and agencies

Environment Minister Doris Leuthard said a ban was unnecessary, as the Swiss system of garbage disposal currently works well.

However, those in favour of the new law noted that plastic shopping bags require considerable petroleum and energy to produce. In addition, it takes hundreds of years for a plastic bag to decompose out in the open. And, when plastic is burned, as is most of Switzerland’s garbage, dioxins are released.

For these reasons, the House of Representatives voted 110 to 73 to ban the bags, which are generally used for just 25 minutes on average. The Senate vote was much tighter, with 18 to 17 in favour.

The 3,000 tonnes of shopping bags in Switzerland account for 0.5 per cent of the plastic used annually.

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