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Retailers will no longer be allowed to hand out plastic carrier bags free of charge


Today, the Parliament adopted certain amendments to the Law on the Management of Packaging and Packaging Waste, drafted by the Ministry of Environment, effectively prohibiting, as of 31 December 2018, handing out lightweight plastic bags, 15 to 50 micron thick, free of charge at retail stores of goods or products will be prohibited.

This ban does not extend to extremely lightweight plastic carrier bags less than 15 micron thick, since extremely lightweight plastic carrier bags are employed as a primary package to bulk foodstuffs and are necessary for hygiene purposes, as well as prevent food wasting. This is to say plastic bags will continue to be available at a local store free of charge for package of fruit, vegetables, and other foodstuffs; however, carrier bags sometimes distributed at a cash register free of charge will now have to be paid for.

The amendments seek to transpose various provisions contained in the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards reducing the consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags into the Lithuanian law.

According to the information available to the Ministry of Environment, in 2014, every Lithuanian resident, on average, used 39 lightweight plastic carrier bags (15 to 50 micron thick) and as many as 260 extremely lightweight plastic carrier bags (less than 15 micron thick) per year. To-date, carrier bags (15 to 50 micron thick) come at a fee in most retail outlets, except for garment and shoe stores, where carrier bags are still distributed to customers for marketing purposes.

Seas and oceans world over are now filled with hundreds of thousands tons of plastic waste. The Great Pacific garbage patch (to be found in the Northern section of the Pacific) presents an island of waste stretching for hundreds of kilometres, largely consisting of floating plastic bags, containers, etc. The Ministry of Environment therefore takes every opportunity to remind the general public of the environmental damage caused by plastic waste, and urges reliance on reusable bags, thus mitigating environmental pollution with plastic waste. Replace your plastic bag with a durable canvas one!

Communication Division

Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas
Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas