The reason for the new regulations on plastic bags in shops

On May 18, the Government approved the Royal Decree on the reduction of consumption of plastic bags after having left in the air the specific date for the entry into force of this new regulation for half a year. From July 1, plastic bags must be charged (except for some very specific exceptions that we address later in this article) and other measures that will also be discussed in this post. The purpose of this new regulation on plastic bags in shops is the reduction of their consumption in Spain to comply with the provisions of European legislation.

Charging to take plastic bags in the stores is not something that we find strange, but it is true that until this year it was a voluntary measure and each trade adopted one position or another. However, how does this new regulation on plastic bags affect stores? How much is there to charge for plastic bags in stores from July 1? Let’s solve these and other frequently asked questions in this post.


The reason for the new regulations on plastic bags in shops

The reasons that have led European and Spanish legislation to limit the consumption of plastic bags are linked to the environment but also to the practical use of this product. Obtaining plastic bags requires petroleum derivatives, so their impact on the environment is twofold: on the one hand, it is related to the manufacturing process and, on the other, with the fact that very soon they become waste highly polluting

According to an article published in El País, it is a product whose average use does not reach the quarter of an hour and, on the other hand, it takes years to disappear from the environment. In addition, its recycling is very limited (around 10% of the total) and, those that are not reused, end up in landfills, in the sea or in the stomach of the fauna (via which they come back to our food chain).

Therefore, the draft Royal Decree of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environment says that:

  • As of July 1, the bags must be charged (except for the very light and the recycled ones).
  • As of 2020, thick bags must contain at least 50% recycled plastic and plastic fragments are prohibited.
  • As of 2021, light and very light plastic bags are prohibited except for compostable ones.

And the objectives of this new regulation are:

  1. The law marks the goal of reducing consumption of plastic bags to less than 90 light plastic bags per person per year with a deadline of December 31, 2019, which would become 40 bags per person per year in December 2025 .
  2. The second objective is linked to the thickest bags (more than 50 microns), whose consumption is expected to be reduced by 30% compared to its use in 2016.
  3. Finally, the law requires a new marking of bags to offer recycling instructions and also collect information on the effectiveness of the measure.


Types of plastic bags for shops

The new regulations on plastic bags in shops also define the different types of bags that are used in shops, without excluding online stores:

  1. Light plastic bags: those that are less than 50 microns thick. It is commonly called “t-shirt bag” or “single-use” because of the small thickness it has.
  2. Very light plastic bags: these bags have a thickness of less than 15 microns. These are the bags that are normally used for hygiene to transport products sold in bulk (fruit, vegetables …).
  3. Biodegradable plastic bags

Oxodegradable plastic bags: they are made of plastics containing additives that, once discarded, are transformed into microfragments and end up fused with the environment.

  1. Compostable plastic bags: also called biodegradable bags, are made from cereal starch. They must comply with the European standard EN 13432: 2000, which sets the requirements for the production of compostable and biodegradable packaging.

The new regulations also affect manufacturers of plastic bags since, as of January 1, 2018, the law prohibits the commercialization of lightweight oxodegradable plastic bags (thickness less than 50 microns). The vast majority of bags consumed in the EU are of this type, but they are the least reused.

What bags should be charged in stores?

All the plastic bags, but you have to pay attention to two special cases:

  • Very light plastic bags of less than 15 microns can be offered free of charge. Of course, these should be used for hygienic reasons and / or for bulk foods.
  • Compostable and biodegradable bags will have a minimum price lower than standard plastic bags.


How much is there to charge for each type of plastic bag?

Minimum prices for non-biodegradable plastic bags:

– Very light plastic bags with less than 15 microns thickness with different uses than those specified above: 10 cents / bag.

– Bags of thickness between 15 and 29 microns: 10 cents / bag.

– Bags of thickness equal to or greater than 30 microns: 15 euro cents / bag.



Minimum prices for compostable plastic bags:

– Bags of thickness less than 15 microns with different uses: 5 cents / bag.

– Bags of thickness between 15 and 29 microns: 5 cents / bag.

– Bags of thickness equal to or greater than 30 microns: 10 euro cents / bag.

Minimum prices of oxodegradable plastic bags:

– Bags of thickness equal to or greater than 50 microns: 30 euro cents / bag.


New marking of plastic bags used in shops

This regulation on plastic bags in shops also has implications for manufacturers. In addition to the prohibition of making oxodegradable light bags with thickness less than 50 microns, producers must apply a new marking system that will identify each bag model and give instructions on recycling.

Therefore, it will be mandatory for bag producers to include information on how to recycle them and, in addition, it will be the way to evaluate the impact of the new regulations. Manufacturers must provide annual information to the General Directorate of Quality and Environmental and Environmental Assessment of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to determine how many bags have been placed on the market.

This new regulation on plastic bags in shops arises as a culmination to the restrictive measures that had already been implemented in some Autonomous Communities as the “Pact for the stock market” of Catalonia or the tax on the plastic bags of Andalusia. This legislation is even stricter than the regional ones, since it prohibits the free plastic bags in order to achieve a more effective reduction in consumption.

Are you affected by the new regulations on plastic bags? Are you looking for options for your store? Do not hesitate to visit our website and see all the alternatives in bags for stores.


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