Reusable Fruit Nets and Bags: How Nets Bring Real Benefits

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Written By Kampretz Bianca

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On average, everyone uses 33 plastic bags per year

There has been a ban on lightweight plastic bags in Germany since January 1, 2022. The aim is to reduce plastic waste. Very thin plastic bags for fruit and vegetables are exempt from the ban. They are still available for free in the fruit and vegetable sections of supermarkets. Its per capita consumption was around 33 in 2021. According to the Federal Statistical Office, a total of 2.7 billion very fine bags were used – at least a decrease compared to 2018. At that time it was still 3.75 billion and 45 bags per capital.

German Environmental Aid and consumer advice centers recommend using reusable nets as an alternative. Many supermarkets now offer them for sale. To get a real benefit for the environment and avoid paying more for fruit and vegetables, there are a few things to consider.

Hammocks are often heavy in the supermarket

The reusable nets available in stores sometimes differ significantly in material and size – and therefore also in weight. When weighing fruits and vegetables, the weight of the nets is often not taken into account or is incorrectly counted and is included in the calculation Baden-Württemberg Consumer Advice Center discovered during test purchases. Consumers often pay more money – even if just a few cents per bag of fruit. Calculated throughout the year, however, a relevant value can be added.

Important to know: Weighing nets violates measurement and calibration regulations. Traders are only allowed to calculate the net weight of apples, carrots, etc. and must ensure that the weight of the nets is not included.

Tip: Place loose fruits and vegetables on the conveyor belt or self-service scale and only after weighing them on the net. Fruits with thick, inedible skin, such as oranges or bananas, can be placed in the basket without an extra bag.

Sustainable shopping: even more tips

  • Save plastic waste. Instead of liquids, you can use solid cosmetic products, like these Foamie Solid Day Cream. Disposable products can also be taken with you Menstrual cups save – a sustainable alternative to sanitary pads and tampons. It’s also worth switching to refillable coffee capsules, like we do at Coffee preparation life cycle assessment I found out.
  • Pay attention to food choices. We provide more tips for sustainable food shopping in our special Eat according to the weather. We tested whether there is more than greenwashing behind claims like “100% CO2 neutral” or “climate positive”. Climate promise in food checked.

Washing and infrequent use harm the environmental balance

What about the ecological balance of reusable nets? Students at the University of Pforzheim looked into this question a few years ago – as part of a cooperation with the Baden-Württemberg Consumer Advice Center.

Conclusion: If reusable nets are used very often and are not cleaned too often, they perform better in terms of carbon footprint than thin disposable plastic bags. By calculations, for example, a reusable PET net must be used more than 18 times to be more ecologically sensible than 18 disposable polyethylene bags. However, reusable nets that are lost, forgotten or discarded after just a few uses are not good for the environment.

Tip: Only wash reusable nets if necessary for hygiene reasons and you cannot shake them out or wipe off the dirt. This improves the ecological balance of the networks.

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