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Producer responsibility = Producentansvar Posted by on Oct 17, 2011 in Development, environment, Politics

Many countries all over the world have recently banned free plastic bags (plastpåse) in grocery stores, including in Australia, Great Britain, Ireland, France and many more. Kenya, certain parts of India, Bangladesh and Taiwan have even banned plastic cutlery in some cases. Sweden has not. According to Hannes Borg, employee at the Ministry of Environment, Sweden has no reason to.

The reasoning being one that, Sweden has a law saying that all producers have the responsibility to take care of the waste of their product. They have to by law, offer their customers some sort of possibility to recycle the containers of the bought product. The producer responsibility (producentansvar) has been applied to 6 different areas; packaging, waste paper, batteries, electric and electronic devices, cars and tires. The customer also has an obvious responsibility to sort and return the remnants of the packaging.

Consequently, there are no rules for a product like a dish-brush, since nobody has payed for the dish-brush to be specially “taken care of”. That is also one of the reasons why only packaging is recycled in Sweden. Other plastic materials, for example, are usually incinerated with the rest of the garbage.

When one of Sweden’s most established newspapers SvD (Svenska Dagbladet) interviewed Svante Axelsson, secretary general for the environmental organization “The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation” (SSNC) (Svenska Naturskyddsföreningen) even he said that a ban on plastic bags would be more of a symbolic action. He however pointed out, that it is not good to consume plastic, and any unnecessary consumption of plastic bags should be avoided. SSNC hope consumers will bring their own cloth bags with them when they do their shopping instead.

After learning that “environmentally friendly” Sweden, in faith that their producer responsibility law will be enough to stop mass pollution, has not banned plastic bags, do you think the right decision has been made? Which would in your opinion be the more efficient way to prevent environmental damage?

If you are interested in reading an article on the subject (although it is in Swedish) this is the link to SvD’s (Svenska Daglbladet’s) homepage:


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  1. Nikki:

    Free plastic bags are not banned in the UK. They have made them weaker though which defeats the purpose because now you need two bags to carry heavy bottles in.

  2. Luke:

    @Nikki: Hopefully, people will separate them before disposal 😉

  3. janerowena:

    They are weaker because they have changed the way they are made – they now decompose in a couple of years. Even less if kept in a warm place. Also all plastic goods are numbered to show their recyclability. Some numbers can be recycled with the rest of the paper and card, others have to be taken to specialist recycling centres and most people can’t be othered unless they live near to one.

    You can also take your plastic bags – any plastic bags at all – to most supermarkets and they will recycle them for you.