Portugal's supermarkets will start to charge you 10c for each plastic shopping bag you use on 15 February.
The use of plastic singel-use shopping bags will finally be reduced in Portugal, and not before time. Many ex-pats are astounded at the number of bags that the checkout operators use to put your shopping away, I for one always pack my own and usually have my own bags anyway.
From Sunday, 15 February 2015 no retail outlet in Portugal will be able to give plastic shopping bags away free, there will a minimum charge of 10c each.
The only hiccup is that Portugal have said that any bags bought by the shops before 15 February cannot be charged for and also cannot be given away free. (Suggestion: anyone connected to a chartiy shop or school should ask the supermarket to donate the bags to their organization.)
In recent decades, numerous countries have introduced legislation restricting the sale and use of plastic bags, in a bid to reduce littering and pollution.
Obviously they are plastic, which comes from oil, which is a fossil fuel and using that is bad as it is running out.
Wales, Dolphins and Turtles have been found on beaches tangled in plastic shopping bags. It is estimated that more than a million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals die every year from ingestion of or entanglement in plastics.
Large build ups of plastic bags have been shown to clog drainage systems in poorer countries and have contributed to flooding, in India and in Bangladesh in 1988 and 1998. The 1998 floods in Bangladesh killed over 1000 people and plastic debris in drainng pipes was one of the contributing factors. Bangladesh banned the plastic bag.
At this moment Portugal and England are the only European countries with no restrictions on plastic shopping bags. England will start charging too in October 2015.
There are many different systems to reduce the use of plastic shopping bags, unfortunately almost every country is different which making it confusing. Some countries imposes taxes or minimum charge (as Portugal, Ireland, Wales etc), some have restrictions on certain types, bio-degradage might be allowed, and some countreis have a total ban on plastic shopping bags, like China (which is interesting as they make them and ship them to the rest of the workd).
Some might say, "why not use bio-degradable bags?" Ah, they can cause more problems than they solve. Biodegradable bags mixed with other plastic in recycling or collection bins makes the other plastics non recyclable, it has to be all or nothing with them. France started using bio bags and has now banned them.
Many of us re-use shopping bags to line our rubbish bins, but for the ones that go into landfill they will still be there when our great, great, great(etc) great grandchildren die. They can take 1000 years to decompose.
We all know that we should use less plastic shopping bags, but they are so convenient and we do not always remember out re-usable ones. Well, now you have to.
Using re-usable bags is better for the environment and better for your pockets.
All supermarkets now sell re-usable shopping bags so get your's now and be ready.