Waste

Albania bans single-use plastic bags

Albania bans single use plastic bags

Photo: Naja Bertolt Jensen on Unsplash

Published

June 1, 2022

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Published:

June 1, 2022

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It is forbidden to produce, import and sell disposable plastic bags in Albania including those that are defined as oxo-degradable or oxo-biodegradable.

After initial failures, attempts on a smaller scale and two years of delays single-use plastic bags are banned in Albania. The amendments to the law on integrated waste management, passed by parliament in March, came into force today.

According to the new rule, it is forbidden to produce, import and sell single-use plastic bags including those that are defined as oxo-degradable or oxo-biodegradable. The legislation excludes those with a thickness of at least 70 microns that can hold a minimum of ten kilograms. They can’t be smaller than 50 times 24 centimeters in size.

The government estimated that pollution would be lowered by 8% within two years with the new rule

The fines are between EUR 4,200 and EUR 12,500 and those who repeat the violation will lose the operation permit, Minister of Tourism and Environment Mirela Kumbaro said. The ministry estimated that pollution would be lowered by 8% within two years.

A study from 2016 found that people used three single-use plastic bags per day, translating to 3.2 billion per year or 26,300 tons. Prime Minister Edi Rama said the law opens a new era and that it protects the country and children.

So-called oxo-degradable and oxo-biodegradable bags aren’t properly disposed of in practice

The European Commission has banned oxo-degradable and oxo-biodegradable plastics. Critics claim such material can only be broken down in controlled conditions for microorganisms and fungus to take over and that in landfills and water it just turns into microplastics and releases chemicals and metals (even cobalt!) from the additives that are supposed to accelerate the process.

Albania doesn’t have any recycling facilities that can properly expose oxo-degradable and oxo-biodegradable plastics to oxygen. Even if it did, the material would probably need to be collected separately, while in practice such disposable bags go to dumpsters or end up in nature and the sea.

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