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Charging plastic bags decreased their purchase at supermarkets by 80%

Sales of plastic bags sold at Greece’s supermarkets went down 80 percent in the month of January, just 31 days after the Environment Ministry imposed a charge of at least 4 cents per bag.

According to surveys conducted by Research Institute of Retail Consumer Goods (IELKA) in supermarket chains but also retail shops and other sales points the findings are:

In supermarkets, the implementation of the extra charge for plastic bags was rigorous and nationwide.

  • A decrease of 75%-80% in purchase of the thin plastic bags was recorded in January 2018 in comparison to January 2017.
  • An increase of over 5,000% in the sale of multipurpose bags

More than 2 out of 3 households opt for the solution of multipurpose bags when compared to pay for a disposable plastic bag.

In other channels of trade and catering the findings are:

  • Extensive implementation of the measure, but with differentiation depending on the industry and the region.
  • Extensive application of the measure in food retailing (bakeries, butchers etc) and especially in organized chain stores.

For example in the clothing retail plastic bags have been replaced with other types of bags such as paper-bags.

Small application of the measure in the catering industry with the exception of organized chain catering.

The measure receives greater implementation in urban centers than in the province.

Plastic bags for purchases at the open markets (laiki) and kiosks are free of charge.

In super markets the thin bags cost €0.4, while the thicker and bigger are sold at €0.7.

The 0.7-euro bags are a good and practical option as they can carry content of two thinner bags and can be used several times. They are brighter than the thinner ones. And really comfortable to carry goods from the supermarket to home.

For many Greeks now the purchase of small bags at bakeries or a pharmacy is now a No-No. I cannot tell whether this attitude has to do with the new environmental awareness or the economic crisis where thousands have to turn a euro-cent twice before they spend it. I bet for the second assumption.

Can we live 100% without plastic bags? Certainly. Once there are solutions for the households wet garbage, pets litter, babies and seniors diapers, bathroom disposal.

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6 comments

  1. Congratulations to the Environmental Ministry! A lot of people are also just too mentally and physically lazy to take reusable bags when they go shopping. I keep 5 cloth bags in my car and refuse plastic at the supermarket. To wash them I just throw them in the washing machine with the other clothes. It costs nothing to do this. The bags can last for years. Eliminating plastic bags not only reduces visual pollution but also diminishes the risk of flooding by not stopping up the sewage system. May that policy continue. The manufacturers/suppliers can switch to producing other plastic goods.

  2. keeptalkinggreece

    yeah yeah polluting the environment with the car but reusable bags. No car = plastic bags. Everybody has his share.

  3. I found I shopped less.. I only bought what my reusable bag could hold. Yes… I should take 2, yes I can buy a plastic bag, but I didn’t. I think they should introduce some paper bags too.

  4. We´ve had this in Portugal for some time, now. Before this measure was adopted, i used to recycle, since i live in an area were the garbage collecting is selective ( special days for collecting plastics, paper-card, and biodegradable(kitchen garbage)). Still, many other areas of this city do not offer this choice to its inhabitants(which , in my opinion, it should). Unlike Germany, the people who recycle in Pt are not paid to do so. I still recycle, and though i have reusable bags, i think the paper bags now available everywhere are a very difficult choice: a little drizzle and you end up with a destroyed bag in no time, and nowhere to put its contents(if you don´t own a car and need to carry it for longer, while walking and during public transport). Plus, aren´t paper bags something we should be avoiding, too?Paper manufacturing=from trees. My best suggestion would be to expand the recycling possibility to other areas of the capital, and then creating means for the people to recycle all over the country. I think it is irrealistic to ban plastics in a short amount of time. Investment in recycling would surely be more sustainable in the long run, than just banning plastics altogether. The reason i don´t pollute more or less since this measure was implemented in Pt: the ability to recycle from my own home.

  5. @ KTG I travel 4 km two times a week to the supermarket. Outside of this I use my car very little (never on weekends). Almost no public transportation where I live. Thoreau had it right: “Simplify, simplify”.

  6. People who need a plastic bag are now paying for it twice. Plastic bags were never free. Their cost was included when selling-prices were calculated, as were the shop running cost, electricity, wages etc. The plastic bag fee is just another tax to further hurt the less well off. Those who can afford cars do not need them but the ordinary person now has to pay more for their shopping when it is not convenient to have your shopping trolley with you. Not all produce can be mixed together in your user-friendly bag, therefore, like it or not, you have to purchase a plastic bag because your bread next to your meat will be disastrous. Governments could collect a fortune by providing separate bins for recycling paper, plastic and general waste as is done throughout most EU countries. That would rob the people who ransack the mixed-rubbish bins searching for recyclable items. When searching the bins many people pull out all its contents, take what they want and leave the rest blowing around the streets. They should be stopped and given community sentences and made to clear up the mess.

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