German minister calls for immediate ban on plastic bags

By Ryan Johnson

The minister has proposed a ban in Germany similar to those in place in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. Gerd Müller said that the issue was crucial to mankind’s survival.

German Development Minister Gerd Müller has called for a ban on plastic bags in Germany, in part to reduce the exports of waste to developing countries.

“The ban on plastic straws is not enough,” Müller told the Augsburger Allgemeine. “Germany should not wait for Europe and should immediately ban disposable plastic bags.”

The CSU politician noted that some African countries had already banned plastic bags, “We must do what Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda have done.”

‘Prevent’ alliance

On Thursday in Berlin, Müller gave the go-ahead for Germany to join a new, international waste alliance, to which 30 companies, research institutions and organizations already belong.

Among them are Nestlé and Coca-Cola, the Green Dot, several universities and the environmental protection group WWF. Other partners include Indonesia and Ghana.

The alliance is called “Prevent,” and its core concern is preventing waste. “Waste is becoming a global survival issue like climate change,” said Müller.

Plastic waste in the sea is set to increase tenfold and with current trends, by 2050, there may be more plastic than fish in the oceans. Today, 2 billion people live in areas without garbage collection. “The poorest of the poor suffer the most,” said Müller.

Reducing waste

Müller says the members of the alliance now want to find ways of reducing as much waste as possible.  “Because if we continue in this way, we will drown in rubbish,” he said.

German technology could play an important role in the fight against the global waste problem, the minister said, and this in turn could lead to job creation.

The German government wants to ensure that only sorted and easily recyclable plastic waste can be sold abroad.