No free plastic bags in Poland from Sept. 1

Currently, Poles use up to 300 plastic bags per capita per year. Wojciech Pacewicz/PAP

With the exception of the smallest produce bags, all plastic bags in Poland will carry a fee of PLN 0.25 (EUR 0.057) including VAT from September 1 this year, Environment Minister Henryk Kowalski announced on Wednesday.

The change of law is the result of retail networks evading fee regulations by issuing bags to customers of over 50 micrometres, which are not covered by the recycling charge, as a result of which the budget received several million zlotys less than expected.

The environment minister told public radio the previous law, binding from January 1, had failed to achieve its objective. "We also didn't achieve the ecological effects, hence the decision to cover all plastic bags over 15 micromtres with a fee," he said, adding that he hoped the change in law would result in people using fewer plastic bags.

According to Finance Ministry estimates, the recycling charge will add PLN 63 million (EUR 14.6 million) to the Polish state budget in 2019, and over PLN 1.4 billion (EUR 324.9 million) in 2020.

When calculating the receipts for 2020, the ministry assumed the use of 150 lightweight plastic bags per capita. Currently, Poles use up to 300 plastic bags per capita per year.