Cyprus Mail

Plastic bag use falls by huge margin following introduction of new laws

By Christophe Hadjigeorgiou

New laws on plastic bags have cut usage by as much as 85 per cent, the Cyprus employers and industrialists federation (OEB) said on Thursday.

Regulations that took effect on July 1 imposed a charge of 6 cents per bag.

“The first evidence from the Cypriot supermarket chains is highly encouraging,” said the OEB.

Supermarkets have registered a drop in the purchase of plastic bags by up to 85 per cent and kiosks by 75 per cent.

Until June 30 2018, Cyprus had excessive use of plastic bags, at 140 bags per person per year. The target, according to the department of the environment, is to reduce usage to 40 bags per person by 2025. The results from the first three weeks put usage at around 21 bags per person per year. If these numbers continue over the next two weeks the target will have been reached 6 years in advance.

The OEB and the department of the environment welcomed the results.

“We congratulate both consumers on their awareness and retailers for their immediate compliance in a measure aimed at reducing the use of plastic transport bags and ultimately protecting the environment and marine ecosystems,” the OEB said in a statement.

The bodies also warned that shops are expected to implement the regulations, not just supermarkets and kiosks. Despite checks being already underway there has been no comment on imposing fines yet.

The department of the environment warned shops that fines will be imposed at some point if they do not stick to the rules. These could be as high as €3,400.

The legislation is part of an initiative that the European Union adopted at the start of 2018 – the European Plastics Strategy – that aims to implement changes in the design, production, and recycling of plastics. One of the targets is to only have recyclable plastic packaging on the market, while use of disposable plastics and microplastics will be greatly reduced by 2030.

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