Icelanders use 20 million plastic bags each year, and the government is not taking any special measures to reduce that consumption.
The question was brought up in parliament by Progressive MP Eygló Harðardóttir, who asked Minister for the Environment Svandís Svavarsdóttir how many plastic shopping bags Icelanders use every year, how long it takes for such bags to break down naturally, and what measures the government is taking to reduce their consumption.
It turns out that every Icelander uses about 70 plastic shopping bags each year. While most plastic bags are made from polyethylene, there have recently appeared bags made of potato or corn starch, which are said to decompose faster than plastic. Plastic bags take about 100 years to decompose on their own.
The Ministry for the Environment has not taken any special measures to reduce their usage, but most stores charge extra for the use of plastic bags, which is supposed to reduce their consumption.
San Francisco became the first city in the world to ban the use of plastic shopping bags in 2007. There are no plans for similar measures to be taken in Iceland.