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Five-cent charge for plastic bags on its way


Consumers are using excessively high numbers of plastic bags MPs heard on Wednesday, as discussion of a bill imposing a charge in a bid to cut plastic usage continued at the House environment committee.

“Only if you see it with your own eyes you will realise. They take empty bags from the cashiers to use at home,” Charalambos Papantoniou, chairman of the supermarket association said.

He told the committee that supermarkets had no objections over a charge being enforced immediately.

However, the representative of plastic manufacturers asked for the bill not to be enforced at the beginning of 2018 but six months later to give them time to make arrangements. MPs heard that companies would need to reduce staff while some could close.

Plastic manufacturers also oppose shouldering the responsibility of recycling. They claimed that supermarkets owe them money going back eight months in some cases and if they are forced to pay for recycling they will have cashflow problems.

The director of the environmental service Costas Hadjipanayiotou said they have settled on imposing a five-cent charge on plastic bags, whose value is between 2.5 and three cents.

Small businesses said they considered the charge to be high and any extras should return to consumers.

Conservationists Terra Cypria said the entire sum should be returned to consumers or go to a special fund. Terra Cypria said consumers were being charged the cost of the plastic bag in any case.

On Monday, Kenya introduced the world’s toughest law aimed at reducing plastic pollution.

Kenyans producing, selling or even using plastic bags will risk imprisonment of up to four years or fines of $40,000, as the East African nation joined more than 40 other countries that have banned, partly banned, or taxed single use plastic bags, including China, France, Rwanda and Italy.

Many bags drift into the ocean, strangling turtles, suffocating seabirds and filling the stomachs of dolphins and whales with waste until they die of starvation.

Close to one trillion plastic bags are used each year, and fewer than one per cent of those are recycled.

In 2006, the United Nations found that each square mile of the ocean has 46,000 pieces of plastic – and because of the currents, it congregates in certain places: the Great Pacific Garbage Patch off the coast of California is a floating mass of plastic up to twice the size of Texas, with pieces of plastic outnumbering sea life six to one.

Plastic chemicals can be absorbed by the body – 93 per cent of Americans age six or older test positive for the plastic chemical BPA which can affect health, development and hormones.

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