Consumption of plastic carrier bags declines rapidly in the retail sector

Press release 2018-04-09 at 13:26
Bring your own bags
The campaign song is by the band Kalevauva.fi, which in its own style inspires consumers to become reusable bag users.

Ministry of the Environment and the Finnish Commerce Federation

An agreement made between the Ministry of the Environment and the Finnish Commerce Federation has rapidly reduced the consumption of plastic carrier bags and lightweight plastic bags in the retail sector during its first year. More than 1,100 companies are now party to the agreement, which in practice means more than 3,300 shops.

Underlying the agreement is the EU directive that is aimed at reducing plastic waste and marine littering. The goal is that by the end of 2025, the annual consumption of plastic carrier bags in Finland will be at most 40 per person.

“The agreement on plastic carrier bags is the Ministry of the Environment’s first so-called Green Deal agreement that strives to reach its goals not through regulation but through voluntary action by retail sector companies, in cooperation with our consumers. The results are very promising,” says Kimmo Tiilikainen, Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing.

“A single plastic carrier bag may seem to be a small thing, but saving on the use of tens of millions of plastic carrier bags is important for the environment,” Tiilikainen continues.

Impressive results already after the first year of the agreement

The retail sector is eagerly taking part in reducing the number of plastic carrier bags and lightweight plastic bags. Many shop chains now charge for plastic carrier bags. Additionally, the intention is to discontinue actively offering small plastic bags at cash registers in all companies that are party to the agreement.

With the introduction of a charge, the consumption of plastic carrier bags in Sokos department stores decreased by 60 per cent last year. On an annual basis, this means almost 4.5 million fewer plastic carrier bags than before. In the food shops of S Group, the use of plastic fruit and vegetable bags decreased by 52 million from the previous year.

The sale of paper bags in the food shops of K Group increased by over 20 per cent in 2017, while the sale of reusable and other shopping bag alternatives rose by 10 per cent. The consumption of small bags[F1] fell by 20 per cent last year. For the K-Rauta hardware stores, the number of plastic bags consumed decreased by about one quarter from 2016 to 2017. In Intersport shops, the number of plastic carrier bags consumed fell by more than 40 per cent since a charge for them was introduced in autumn 2017.

Lidl saw a 20 per cent decrease in the consumption of plastic carrier bags and total sales of them have declined, even though, at the same time, Lidl’s operations and network of shops have expanded.

For the Tokmanni chain, the sale of reusable shopping bags rose by 140 per cent, while 66 per cent fewer fruit and vegetable bags were delivered to its shops. After the introduction of a charge for plastic carrier bags by Gigantti, the consumption of them decreased by 64 per cent during the first year of the charge. Musti and Mirri shops saw a 40 per cent decrease in plastic carrier bag consumption over the six-month period after a charge was introduced. Likewise, the year 2018 has begun promisingly — at Stockmann, only 30 per cent of customers bought a shopping bag in January–February 2018.

Launch of a communication campaign: Bring your own bags!

Today, 9 April,[F2] the Ministry of the Environment and the Finnish Commerce Federation are launching a joint communication campaign on the plastic carrier bag agreement. Its theme is Bring your own bags. The non-commercial campaign is aimed at further reducing the single-use consumption of plastic carrier bags, with the added bonus of saving natural resources and reducing littering.

The campaign also aims to raise awareness of sustainable consumption. Regardless of the material of a shopping bag, in terms of the overall environmental impact, the bag should be used as many times as possible and only then the material should be recycled or disposed of properly.

The campaign is supported by a number of retail sector companies that are party to the plastic carrier bag agreement: S Group, K Group, Lidl Suomi Ky and Tokmanni Oy. The campaign’s internet banners and shop posters are available for everyone’s use.

The band Kalevauva.fi performs the campaign song. In its own style, the band hopes to inspire consumers to use reusable bags. The subtitles of the Bring your own bags music video are based on a discussion of plastic carrier bags held on the website vauva.fi.

More information about the plastic carrier bag agreement and the companies that are party to it, the communication campaign, and downloadable promotional material: Kassi-info.fi

Inquiries:

Tarja-Riitta Blauberg, Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 295 250 059, tarja-riitta.blauberg(at)ym.fi

Juhani Pekkala, Managing Director, Finnish Commerce Federation, tel. +358 400 419 560, juhani.pekkala(at)kauppa.fi
Marja Ola, Senior Adviser, Environmental Affairs, Finnish Commerce Federation, tel. +358 50 383 7711, marja.ola(at)kauppa.fi
 

Senja Forsman, Senior Compliance Manager, S Group, tel. +358 10 768 6163, senja.forsman(at)sok.fi
Timo Jäske, Sustainability Manager/Grocery Trade, K Group, tel. +358 50 529 2028, timo.jaske(at)kesko.fi
Jesse Mether, Sustainability Manager, Building and Technical Trade, K Group, tel. + 358 50 444 2057, jesse.mether(at)kesko.fi
Maija Järvinen, CSR Coordinator, Lidl Suomi Ky. Contacts and requests for interviews via the Communications Department: media(at)lidl.fi/tel. +358 9 2345 6400
Joséphine Mickwitz, Head of IR and Communications, Tokmanni Oy, tel. +358 400 784 889, josephine.mickwitz(at)tokmanni.fi
 

Anniina Korpela, PR & Communications Manager, Gigantti Oy Ab, tel. +358 40 742 2498, anniina.korpela(at) gigantti.fi
Juhana Lamberg, Country Manager, Musti ja Mirri Oy, tel. +358 50 555 5989, juhana.lamberg(at)mustijamirri.fi
Johanna Stenbäck, CSR Manager, Stockmann plc, tel. +358 46 876 1529, johanna.stenback(at)stockmann.com