Plastic rules “mostly benefit business”, say environmentalists

Making plastic packaging more expensive to encourage the use of reusable alternatives will only benefit business while the effect on the environment is negligible, environmental organisations have said.

The new rules, which came into effect on July 1, means fast food outlets can charge customers up to 25 cents more for a single-use plastic cup and up to 50 cents more for a plastic container or plate.

At the same time they must offer customers a resusable alternative, for instance a cup or container with a deposit. Supermarkets will also be charging more for plastic packaging but are not forced to come up with a reusable alternative because the food is not eaten on the spot.

The system is flawed, Karl Beerenfenger of Mission Reuse said, because the extra charge will mostly help businesses make extra profit they can spend at will.

“In practice supermarkets and food outlets will charge just enough to not lose custom and have a nice profit margin. They are not being encouraged to invest that money in reusable alternatives,” he told the Telegraaf. “In this way consumers carry the responsibility and the costs for the scheme, and that can’t be right.”

Beerenfenger said the government should check where the money is going and make sure customers are better informed about the charge. The fact that is is mentioned on the receipt is not enough.  “Who asks for a receipt when they buy their chips?”, he said.

According to Mission Reuse the only way forward is to switch completely to a deposit system for cups and containers which can be handed in after use and cleaned to be used again.

Every day 19 million plastic cups and takeaway food packages are thrown away in the Netherlands, according to government figures. The aim of the new rules is to reduce the use of single use plastic by 40% by 2026.

Dutch News has asked government to comment on the way the plastic charge is being applied in practice.

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