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Greek ministry to impose extra tax on supermarket plastic bags

The era of free plastic bags in Greece’s supermarkets will soon be over. A bill prepared by the Environment Ministry provides that Greek supermarkets will have to impose an extra charge on plastic bags consumers use to carry their purchases home.

What will be the charge? According to some media, the charge will be €0.08 per bag, other report of  €0.05 to €0.10.

The new legislation will go in effect in 2018. A transition period with half the charge will be in effect until 30 June 2018.

The legislation is in accordance with relevant directives of the European Union.

The idea to charge for the plastic bags in supermarkets is not new. In fact, it was long due.

According to a survey of Greek Retail Research Institute, 4.3 billion plastic bags are been used in Greece per year. Only 1% is being recycled. it is not clear, though, whether it is just supermarket bags or plastic bags in general.

Greece reportedly tops the EU list of plastic bags per capita. A Greek would use 363 bags per year, while the EU average is 175.

Goal for the next two years is to reduce the use of plastic bags down to 90 per person per year.

According to the Greek Research Institute, a Greek consumer uses four plastic bags per supermarket visit. Bags are filled at 50%.

81% of respondents said they further use the bags for their waste.

In case of a charge, one out of ten respondents said  to “pay for a plastic bag”.

57% of respondents said to “use a reusable bag.”

In order to raise consumer awareness and reduce the use of the plastic bag four large  supermarket chains and the Consumer Goods Retailing Research Institute will launch campaign with the slogan “We care today to live better tomorrow”.

Carrying that Weight

As a consumer without a car, I always have to keep a weight-bag-balance when I carry my weekly purchases from the supermarket home. I would say that I am a master in arranging weight and proportions inside the plastic bags. Four bags are a must. Two hands, each carrying two bags. How much wight I have to carry home per week? I cannot tell. Some ten kilos? Or less? Or more? It depends.

Occasionally, there have to be five or even six bags. When I reach home, after a walking distance of some 200 meters, I feel that my arms have gained in extension.  And became extremely tired. Not to mention the dance of my spine, my waste bones and the nerves. This 5- or 6-bags torture does not happen every week though. But sometimes it is inevitable. I could leave two of the bags at the supermarket, bring the first bags home,  walk back and hold the rest. Who does such a thing? Not me.

Of course, I re-use the plastic bags for wet and dry waste, recycling waste and gardening waste. Buying special bags is too expensive.

Re-usable bags are for me out of question. I tried them years ago, when I was living in Germany. They are much too long and inconvenient for my 160-cm height. When I hold them they reach far down, almost touching the asphalt.The more things one puts inside, the longer they become.

Even the re-usable bags in Greece are much too long for me. Carrying them on the shoulder? Are you kidding me? All this weight on my shoulder? No way.

A re-usable bag means also to carry a lot of weight on one side and disproportionately burden one side of my bones and joints construction.

When I look at all these short Greek grannies at the supermarket on our neighborhood, I truly believe, they have the same problem with the re-usable bags.

Grocery bags made of paper are, of course, out of question. I can well imagine to find my purchases spread all over the pavement outside the supermarket in zero time.

So practically, there are two options: either re-usable bags become re-designed and smaller or we pay for our plastic bags. A 0.05 euro charge is the most appropriate, I think.

And if we use re-usable bags, where shall we put our waste?

PS Some mean Greek cats claim the government decided to adjust with the EU directive now in order to cash extra revenues. They also assert that all bureaucrats in Brussels have a car and are not aware of the troubles of four-legged beings. Furthermore, they argue that cats without a car should be rewarded for their Eco Green footprint and not be charged with an extra tax for using plastic bags. Don’t listen to them. Greek cats always find a reason to meow.

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  1. Lidl is ahead of the game, they charge 0.04 EUR per bag!

    Joking aside, I agree with this. It eliminates waste.

    In the UK its normal now, I think there its 0.10 GBP per bag, so they ask would you like a bag? I just say no.

  2. Lidl charge 0.04 EUR i go every week! I am not KTG, can’t afford to go to the other supermarkets = )

    • keeptalkinggreece

      hahaha. ofcourse, you’re not KTG as KTG pays its electricity bills. BTW this 0.04 euro mini bag is big enough for the purchase of one 30-gr chocolate and a shot of milk.

  3. What a negative attitude towards re-usable bags! There are perfect models for ‘short’ people out there and maybe you could start designing them yourself (big business) or import them. In The Netherlands we hardly use any plastic bags anymore, you see them nowhere in the supermarkets (only biodegradable ones for fruit or vegetables or paper ones) as it is totally forbidden. Nobody complains and everyone adopted this as we understand the impact of plastic on our environment. If your poor arms and shoulders cannot lift the weight try a cart with wheels, there are many wich also can easily be wheeled up the stairs if you live in an apartment without elevator. As for your waste there are many solutions out there, even for hot climates. Think positive and contribute to a clean environment, learn from best practises and stop polluting your beautiful land, sea and islands!

    • keeptalkinggreece

      tell us more about the solutions for the household waste, pls. BTW: I personally pollute much less my beautiful land than you think I do.

  4. michele lavender

    Take to the supermarket a good strong cloth bag,one or two of them,hesian perhaps,use these every time,as everyone used to do,good strong handles.But why not make biodegradable bags which break down very quickly,starch for example.all plastics must be super biodegradable,something harmless when broken down that could even be used as compost,its up to governments to force manufacturers to do this for all plastic,and lets not call it plastic cause it wont be plastic.

  5. As far as I know the plastic bags in the greek super market are mostly made of PE which can be burnt without polluting the air too much, but they are not biodegradable as such. I would not put them on my compost. I am also 1,60m and I prefer using a basket or bags made of cloth, although sometimes I can’t avoid the plastic bags. For my fruits and vegetables I prefer paper bags. Carts with wheels as mentionned above are also a very good solution for heavy purchases.
    Anyway I find it very tireing that I ALWAYs have to say “no bag please”. EVERYTHING is packed in plastic bags in Greece automatically, even screws which I can put in my handbag or my rucksack, and this is really not necessary.
    In France the plastic bags are forbidden already and I really think this is a very good idea.

  6. Yes, most of the plastic bags you get from supermarkets biodegrade, and they don’t even need to be exposed to the sun etc. I used to stuff my bags into a large rubbish bag to use as smaller rubbish bags or for when we went to Lidl, and the Vasiilopoulos bags at the bottom (which didn’t get used, because – well, they were at the bottom) would disintegrate into powder after about a year. I quickly learned that I must cycle those bags bottom to top at least every six months if I didn’t want a big mess in my kitchen.

  7. KTG you are a smoker are you not?
    So you pollute your climate very much!

  8. Tobacco is an aromatic herb which has well known antibacterial properties when burned. Not what I would call a pollutant.