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Greece introduces Eco-Tax on plastic bags to tackle environmental issues

With the new year, Greeks are confronted with a new habit: pay for plastic bags in their grocery shops. The government has introduced a so-called Eco-Tax of 4 cents for every plastic bag the environment unaware Greek puts his veggies and staples.

The measure went into effect on January 1st 2018 but as the supermarkets and shops were closed and remain close on January 2nd, Greeks will see the new measure on their bills on Wednesday.

Charging the eco-tax, the government hopes to reduce the use of plastic bags and tackle environmental issues.

“The plastic bag must be removed from our habitual consumption. We seek to change the behavior of consumers so that they, as citizens, will understand the environmental consequences,” Greek Alternate Minister of Environment and Energy Socrates Famellos said.

Athens aims to reduce the use of plastic bags per person by 75 percent by the end of 2020 and by 90 percent per person by 2025, according to the 2015 EU directives.

Greeks use plastic bags twice the average than other Europeans.

An average Greek uses 242 to 363 plastic bags per year, estimations speak of more than 4 billion plastic bags on annual basis.

The plastic bags Greeks use for the shopping and garbage reportedly make up half of the waste in Greece’s waters.

The Eco-Tax is 3 euro cents but with 24% Value Added Tax, the cost rises to 3.75, the actual charge is therefore 4 cents.

No charge for plastic bags will be imposed for shopping in the open markets (Laiki) and kiosks. I hear that also bakeries will charge the plastic bag but I am not sure whether an extra charge will be imposed on the plastic bag for other purchases like clothes or shoes.

As of 2019, the charge will rise to 7 cents.

The revenues are are supposed to be used to produce recycled eco-friendly bags.

But many Greeks are suspicious and think of the eco-tax as another revenue-raising measure that will most probably land in the lenders’ pockets. Some friends even laughed recalling the implementation of the smoking ban that was never effectively implemented.

In a country with very little ecological education, Greeks seem surprised that the plastic bags can harm the environment.

Yesterday, I saw a young man emptying a big cloth bag into the waste bin. He was throwing newspapers, wires, bottles and cans. I told him that the recycling bin (blue) was on the opposite side of the street. He looked at me with stunning eyes and told me to mind my own business.

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  1. michele lavender

    It would be better for the world governments to force bag manufacturers to make them from degradable starch which will not harm the environment.But alas oh alas we cannot look to our governments to implement laws which dont bring them in…money.With regards to recycling our waste on the street bins,I used to separate my rubbish in the street bins,recycling in the blue bins but one day we got stuck behind a council pick-up rubbish collector and to my disbelief the workers tipped everything from all the bins into the general rubbish,no separation what so ever.Now is this what happens all over Greece,I expect so,where are the recycling plants then?probably nowhere!So I now dont separate,I dont do my bit which I should do because I live in a country with extremely poor management right through the full spectrum of life here and thats a very sad admission.

  2. Eco tax + VAT; Even the tax is taxed in Greece!

  3. Hecataeus Miletuss

    @Miichele, I wonder what would have happened if you had made a video of that an posted it on Facebook to the the municipality of other media in Athens? Maybe some negative attention would get their positive attention?

  4. Michele should have made the video. This is a great idea. We had plastic bags in São Paulo supermarkets outlawed for a while but the plastics/petroleum industry won in the end. This is nothing but PURE LAZINESS on the people’s, customer’s, part and greed on the part of the plastics manufacturers. I have 4 cloth bags which I have used for over 5 years and almost never ask for plastic, at least at grocery stores and markets. I just keep them in my car so I will always have them when I go out. Any plastic bag I do get is used for organic garbage. The plastics industry said that cloth bags would have to be washed all the time and this would pollute the environment with extra detergent. That is pure BS. I just put them in with my clothes and do not use additional soap.

  5. 5 cents a bag here for some years. We mostly carry reusable grocery bags. Clothing stores don’t charge for bags. However many have gone to paper. At 5 cents a bag, we use them for garbage since they’re cheaper than buying garbage bags. we sort recycling, organic, garbage and plant waste. Organic pickup once a week (summer too), recycling and garbage alternate every other week. Plant once a week from April to November.

    I was amazed at how often the garbage got picked up in Greece in the summer.

    @carlwilliam, we have a grocery store chain here that replaces your wrecked bags free of charge. They are made of corn husks (among other things) Buy one, have one forever.

  6. Rubbish in Poros is definitely recycled. Two different rubbish runs for the blue and the green bins – and our recycling plant is on the mainland of the Peloponnese. I think that Greece is about the last country in the EU to introduce a tax on plastic carrier bags. Definitely bio degradable bags are better – but charging for bags is better than doing nothing!

  7. @Mary Mexis That is a great replacement system.

  8. Had I known I would have brought some bags with me to the grocery store today. I was wondering why there was no bags around and then the cashier informed me. When was this horrid charge voted on? It seems like everyone knew this here but me.

  9. They wanted to implement this bag charge too in New York City, luckily the measure there was overturned. People will reuse old bags and they will contaminate the food people buy, which will bring about increased foodborne illness. Thanks for nothing enviro-commies! Protect the environment while killing off the human race (and making us poorer too)! With all the VAT charged in Greece, now there’s a bag tax too? Why would anyone want to have a business here?

    Also the 5G technology roll out will bring about further harm to health, increasing rates of cancer. It’s bad for the environment too but do any of the politicians care? They couldn’t give a you know what!! It’s all about money and agendas of the elite who want to feel like they’re gods of this earth! Thanks for nothing greedy corporations and greedy troublemaking politicians.

  10. I read KTG very often, just not the last time. Thank you for your contribution to us!

  11. Hecataeus Miletuss

    I heard two guys on the Metro complaining about the 4 cent bags but I could not help but chuckle as they both had (appeared to be) 1200 Euro Iphones! hahahahaah


  13. Hecataeus Miletuss

    KTG, is this your kitty kat in the photo??