Plastic bags: Germany is passing a law to ban them

Last updated at 05:17
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Retailers in Germany currently charge customers who use plastic bags, but the new law will ban them entirely

Germany has plans to introduce a new law banning the use of plastic bags.

It isn't known when the legislation will come into force, but the country's environment minister Svenja Schulze is welcoming the change.

In 2016, the government made an agreement with German retailers to limit the use of plastic bags. Some retailers opted for more environmentally friendly alternatives and those which did offer plastic bags had to charge customers to use them.

However, Germany's government is looking to take things one step further.

"My ministry will get a plastic bag ban on its way," she said. The minister wants Germany to get away from a 'throw-away society' and to use less plastic.

Which countries have ditched the plastic?
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New York introduced a new law earlier this year banning plastic bags.

Single-use plastic bags will no longer be given to customers starting from March 2020.

New York isn't the first place to do something like this in America. Hawaii was the first state to ban plastic bags in the US and California has also brought the ban in.

Bangladesh was the first country in the world to introduce a ban on plastic bags back in 2002.

A number of other countries have banned single-use plastic bags including Kenya, Rwanda and China.

Pakistan is the latest country to welcome the ban which came into play on 14 August.

You drive through urban areas in this state and you see plastic bags hanging from trees like some bizarre Christmas ornaments. You see in waterways all across this state, plastic bags. I've been fishing 40 miles out in the ocean and you see a parade of these plastic bags just floating by. There was no need, we've been trying to get this done, we've gotten it done.

Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor of New York State
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Why ban plastic bags?

You'll have probably heard quite a lot about plastic pollution and how damaging it can be for the planet and wildlife.

Plastic bags can be a big part of the problem.

Often they're seen as being 'single-use' items - that means they're used once before they're put in the bin.

When they're thrown away they don't rot, like paper or food, so can hang around in the environment for hundreds of years.

If they're dropped as litter they can end up anywhere, being blown in to trees, rivers and even our oceans.

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They can be dangerous for animals, including fish, which might get trapped or injured in them.

They might also eat them thinking that they are food.

This means the animals don't get the nutrients they need and because they can't digest the bags they can become too full to eat.

What's being done here in the UK to tackle plastic bags?

Across the UK people now have to pay 5p for plastic bags.

This hasn't always been the case but the charge was brought in to try and cut down on the number of plastic bags people were using and throwing away.

The aim was to encourage people to re-use them instead.

The Government says since the charge started the number of bags used has gone down by more than 80% in England.

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