The environment department will issue up to €250 fines to stores found violating the latest plastic-bag ban that came into force on Saturday.

Inspections of compliance with the relevant legislation will now begin, the general secretary of the retail trade association Marios Antoniou told CyBC Radio Trito.

The ban covers thin plastic carrier bags meant to transport the items purchased at businesses, the specification being less than 50μm (microns) thick. That includes even the bags labelled as biodegradable.

It concerns most businesses such as pharmacies, kiosks, supermarkets and delivery orders.

The only exceptions are for plastic bags used for hygiene purposes, such as to cover meat or fish products and even then only to act as a barrier from other products.

Stores are expected to offer thicker reusable plastic bags, paper and cloth bags and a price.

Antoniou said those who break the law will be fined €150 for small shops and €250 for larger ones.

A wide array of single use plastic items were banned back in October – such as plastic knives, plates and cups.

The law, necessary to harmonise Cyprus with the EU directive on reducing the impact of plastic products on the environment was passed earlier this year, although the EU directive should have been transposed into law by July 2021.

MPs had previously narrowly approved an amendment for a three-month extension from the initial extension on the implementation date of April 30 until September 30 to allow the sale of single-use plastics and exhaust the stocks, provided their order was placed before July 3, 2021, when all EU member states should have adopted the directive into law.

This was an additional extension to a previous amendment to the bill by the House environment committee which extended the availability of the stock of single-use plastic products to April 30, provided the order was placed on the market before July 3, 2021.