A measure intended to reduce plastic bag use by more than two-thirds over the next year has come into force. From now on, a plastic bag in a Norwegian store will likely cost more than four kroner.
In 2022, residents of Norway purchased 722 million plastic bags. On average, that's a surprising 132 bags per person. The number is lower then 2021, but it's not low enough according to authorities.
The goal is for a resident of Norway to buy fewer than 40 plastic bags per year by 2025. To achieve this goal, the fee for a plastic bag from the Norwegian Retailers' Environment Fund will double from 1 to 2 kroner per bag.
More than four kroner per bag
This increase has already been passed on to the consumer in many stores. A single plastic bag now costs at least NOK 4 (USD $0.40) in many stores in Bergen, according to a survey by NRK. Many stores are charging NOK 4.25 (USD $0.42).
Since the last price increase, all major Norwegian supermarkets have experienced a decrease in plastic bag sales. “But it has not decreased enough. That is the starting point for a new increase,” says Norgesgruppen's Kine Søyland to NRK.
Although retailers are staying quiet about how much a plastic bag will now cost, NRK verified there will be a price hike. Søyland said it “will also affect the price in store” while Coop Norway's Knut Lutnæs said a price increase was “not unlikely.”
All expected the new price to lead to a significant reduction in usage. “We expect that the reduction will be significantly greater going forward with the increased fee,” says Lutnæs in Coop.
From the new year, the fee for plastic bags is set to rise even further.
Shopping bags “better”
Norwegian Retailers' Environment Fund CEO Cecilie Lind said that shopping bags have a poor environmental reputation with some, but they are better than many believe.
Read more: A Guide to Shopping in Norway
“An updated assessment has been made,” she said, referring to figures from 2018 that are often quoted by opponents of plastic bag charging.
She said that a shopping bag made from polyester and/or nylon needs to use no more than 8 times before they are better for the environment than a single-use plastic bag that is then used as a trash bag. Although the number for cotton shopping bags is much higher, at 68, according to Lind.