German supermarket chain Aldi set to charge for fruit and veg bags

Discount chain Aldi is to charge customers a fee for disposable fruit and vegetable bags in future as part of plans to cut down on plastic waste.

German supermarket chain Aldi set to charge for fruit and veg bags
Fruit and veg bags will cost a cent in future. Photo: DPA/Aldi

The bags, which are available for customers to use in the fruit and veg section, will cost one cent in Germany from this summer onwards – a “symbolic fee” aimed at encouraging people to cut down on plastic bag usage, the firm said on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the bags will also soon be made of renewable raw materials in a bid to make them more environmentally friendly.

Furthermore, the discount chain, which is made up of two groups – Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd – will be offering reusable nets as an alternative for consumers to bag up their fruit and veg from autumn this year.

Even though customers in supermarkets across Germany now have to pay for plastic carrier bags, the thin bags for fruit and veg have so far been free of charge.

But this will likely change in future as supermarkets look at how to cut down further on plastic waste.

Three billion thin plastic bags

The consumption of plastic carrier bags, which retailers sell at the checkout for a fee, has fallen by two thirds in the last three years.

Last year, plastic bag use in Germany stood on average at 24 bags per person – or five fewer than in the previous year, according to the Gesellschaft für Verpackungsmarktforschung (Society for Packaging Market Research).

READ ALSO: Are plastic bags on the way out in Germany?

Aldi will offer nets for fruit and veg in future. Photo: DPA

“The Germans are increasingly shying away from plastic bags,” Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) previously told DPA. The figures represent a large dip from 2016, when usage was still at 45 bags per capita.

But customers in Germany used more than three billion of the thin plastic bags for fruit and vegetables last year, the Federal Environment Ministry said.

That is equal to 37 bags per person, slightly more than in 2015 or 2016.

“The figures confirm that the pricing of plastic bags has visibly prompted consumers to rethink,” said Kristina Bell, group buying director for quality assurance and corporate responsibility at Aldi Süd.

“We are following a similar principle with the symbolic cent for our disposable fruit and vegetable bags,” she added. “We would be delighted if other retailers joined us, because it’s only with an industry-wide solution that we can take a big step forward in reducing plastic bag usage.”

READ ALSO: How Germany's environment minister plans to turn around plastic use

Reducing plastic consumption

Aldi plans to have the fruit and veg bags, which will be subject to the small fee, made from biodegradable plastics from this summer onwards.

As an alternative, the chain plans to sell nets for fruit and vegetables from autumn, which customers can reuse. Other retail chains also offer these washable nets.

Supermarkets have been increasingly trying to think of ways to reduce their plastic consumption.

Both Aldi chains banned plastic crockery, straws and plastic cups from their stores at the beginning of the year. Since March, the discounter has also got rid of plastic packaging for cucumbers.

Aldi announced last summer that they intend to use 30 percent less plastic in the packaging of their private label products by 2025.

By 2022, consumers will be able to recycle all label packaging, they said.

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Young activists take German states to court over climate inaction

Campaigners began a legal challenge against five German regions on Monday to force them to take stronger action on climate change, emboldened by a landmark recent court ruling in favour of environmental protection.

Young activists take German states to court over climate inaction
Demonstrators from the Fridays for Future movement protest in Gießen, Hesse, with a sign saying "No wishy-washy, no climate lashing". Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

The plaintiffs are basing their case on a sensational verdict by Germany’s constitutional court in April which found that Germany’s plans to curb CO2 emissions were insufficient to meet the targets of the Paris climate agreement and placed an unfair burden on future generations.

In a major win for activists, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s federal government then brought forward its date for carbon neutrality by five years to 2045, and raised its 2030 target for greenhouse gas reductions.


On Monday, 16 children and young adults began proceedings against the regions of Hesse, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Saarland, with support of environmental NGO Environmental Action Germany (DUH).

They are charging that none of the states targeted by the legal action have passed sufficiently strong climate legislation at the local level, according to DUH.

“The federal government can’t succeed on its own,” lead lawyer Remo Klinger said in a press conference, highlighting state competence in the area of transport.

DUH worked closely together with the youth climate movement Fridays For Future to find activists willing to front the challenges, the group said.

Seventeen-year-old plaintiff Alena Hochstadt said the western state of Hesse, known for its Frankfurt banking hub, had always been her home but she feared having “no future here”.

Concern about the risk of “floods, storms and droughts” led her and other campaigners to seek “a legal basis for binding climate protection”.

READ ALSO: Climate change made German floods ‘more likely and more intense’

Hesse’s ministers for climate and the economy said they were “surprised” by the announcement.

“DUH clearly has not yet understood that we in Hesse are well ahead,” Priska Hinz and Tarek Al-Wazir said in a joint statement, drawing attention to an energy future law from 2012, before the Paris climate agreement.

In July, DUH-supported activists took the states of Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia and Brandenburg to court on similar grounds.