Slovakia tops EU ranking in plastic waste, ministry calls for compostable alternatives

Supermarket chains often offer their own ecological alternatives for customers.

(Source: Unsplash)

The Environment Ministry is encouraging supermarket chains to replace single-use plastic bags with compostable alternatives.

Slovakia currently belongs among the EU countries with the biggest use of plastic bags. While in some EU countries, one inhabitant uses, on average, four to ten such bags per year, one inhabitant in Slovakia uses seven to eight plastic bags per day, the SITA newswire reported.

“Plastic bags are offered as a primary package for unwrapped groceries,” the press department of the ministry said, as quoted by the SITA newswire. “There are hygienic reasons for their use, but they could be fully replaced with compostable bags.”

String bag as alternative

Some supermarkets are already making an effort to lower the amount of plastic bags used.

Lidl offers string bags for sale in their stores. The spokesperson of the company, Tomáš Bezák, noted that the string bags have lowered the use of plastic bags in their shops by 30 percent, and some educational activities in Slovakia have helped reduce plastic waste too.

The supermarket chain Billa also offers its customers string bags through a pilot project in select stores. Marek Kravjar, Billa's marketing and PR specialist, told SITA that the pilot project was successful so, in a short time, it will start offering string bags to its customers in all stores.

“Due to the pandemic, however, the customers themselves prefer packaged foods, and we also noticed this trend in pastries, fruits and vegetables, which led to a significant decrease in the use of bags made of plastic materials,” Kravjar said for SITA. “The savings in plastic was minimised, in part, by the increased use of disposable gloves, which almost tripled during the pandemic.”

250 tonnes saved every year

Kaufland spokesperson Lucia Vargová said that if all Kaufland customers used eco-net bags instead of plastic bags, the company would save 250 tonnes of plastic bags per year.

Therefore, the company is trying to motivate customers to use alternative food packaging through campaigns. "Also, on our fruit and vegetable scales, we have introduced the option to choose from several weighing alternatives - without packaging in a plastic bag or eco-net. We believe that these steps will contribute to a lower use of disposable plastics and to a higher awareness among our customers," she told SITA.

According to Peter Steigauf, Tesco's external communications manager, the company has been offering reusable bags made of organic cotton for a long time, suitable for packaging bakery products or fruit and vegetables.

Addressing the repeated use of bags is the key to reducing the country's impact on the environment. In this way, customers can reduce the use of plastic and the total plastic waste generated as a result, he added.

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