While many countries have banned the lowly plastic shopping bag for its unenvironmentally-friendly longevity, plastic bags remain stubbornly common in otherwise green-conscious Sweden.

SR International reports that the trouble is, through a modest charge paid by shoppers for each plastic bag, the polythene menace has become a money-earner for major Swedish retail chains, making stores reluctant to withdraw the bags.

Swedish stores began charging customers for plastic bags in the 1970â?Ts, with the aim of reducing demand and encouraging use of pulp-based alternatives. The plan worked at first, but demand subsequently recovered.

Two of Swedens major food chains, Hemköp and Willys, sell some 120 million bags a year, the majority of which are plastic. Stores charge around 22 US cents for a plastic bag, and stores make around 13 cents per bag sold, representing a wide financial margin, especially when set against rising food costs and fierce price competition.

One grocery chain, Coop, is launching a new bio-bag, still a plastic bag, but made from corn (maize) rather than oil-based products, making the bags biodegradable.

Other stores are also pushing more environmentally-friendly alternatives, but while the plastic bag remains a favorite with grocery shoppers across the country, no ban is likely, leaving the plastic bag to remain a feature of the Swedish retail experience

Ano da Publicação:
WARMER BULLETIN ENEWS #37-2007-September 14, 2006
Kit Strange/Warmer Bulletin
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