Plastic bag

European retail and wholesale representative EuroCommerce has raised concerns about the effect on profits of EU legislation to replace plastic carrier bags used for fruit and vegetables.

The proposal calls for alternative packaging to plastic bags for fruits, vegetables and other products.

According to EuroCommerce, plastic carrier bags make up only a relatively small share of total waste generated in Europe and retail firms are already carrying out several voluntary measures in an effort to reduce their consumption.

The group also said that current alternatives are more expensive and will result in higher prices for consumers. EuroCommerce has called for the exemption of lightweight plastic bags from the proposal until better alternatives become available.

The draft report also allows consumers to leave any packaging that they do not need at the till, asking that the retailer ensures that the packaging is correctly recycled and reused.

EuroCommerce director-general Christian Verschueren said it will be impossible for the retailers to sort out leftover packaging materials for reuse and recycling.

"This proposal will, no doubt, lead to extended queues and increased confusion at the tills, if consumers are allowed to unpack and repack their items as they wish. Shops should not be considered as waste collection points," Verschueren added.

The European Parliament is scheduled to vote on the proposal on 17 April.

Image: The European Parliament will vote on the proposal to reduce plastic bags. Photo: courtesy of Grant Cochrane/