Just a month in, an initiative aimed at reducing consumers’ dependence on plastic carrier bags by charging for them appears to be bearing fruit, as some supermarkets have recorded a drop of as much as 50 percent.
“The application of the measure at supermarkets is very widespread, though there are still some problems at small retail outlets in the countryside,” the managing director of the Research Institute of Retail Consumer Goods (IELKA), Lefteris Kioses, told a forum held in the framework of the European Union’s Life Debag initiative on Thursday.
Since the 0.04-euro charge for regular plastic bags was introduced on January 1, an increasing number of retailers now offer reusable shopping bags. Stores that are not implementing the measure include those that sell clothing and footwear, as well as fast-food restaurants. “They appear worried that charging for the bag will displease their customers,” said Kioses.
Kioses said the public response has been mostly positive, with “some reaction from those who think it is just a revenue-raising measure.”
“The public’s shift toward reusable bags has been significant. Many businesses had underestimated demand and ran out,” he added.
The news is also good from Syros, the Cycladic island that has been campaigning against the use of plastic bags for the past two years.
“We are seeing the effect of our efforts in the sea and on our beaches,” says Patra University Professor and Life Debag’s coordinator in Greece Giorgos Papatheodorou.