Rethink on supermarket bags

Supermarket owners indicated yesterday that they are willing to consider charging for plastic shopping bags or encouraging customers to bring their own, in a bid to reduce the waste created by some 8 million bags that are used daily by shoppers. The head of supermarket bosses told Kathimerini that his colleagues were interested in adopting a system similar to the ones used in other European countries, such as Ireland, whereby customers bring cloth bags from home for their shopping, are charged for each plastic bag they use or are given recyclable paper bags. «There will have to be a change in the law forcing supermarkets to charge for shopping bags so that their excessive use, which is detrimental to the environment, can stop,» said Apostolos Alexakis, president of the Association of Greek Supermarkets (SESME). An Athens supermarket manager told Kathimerini that an average store receives about 800 customers a day, each of whom use four plastic bags for their shopping, on average. This means that each supermarket gives away roughly 3,200 bags a day and with some 2,500 stores nationwide, this leads to 8 million plastic bags being used daily by customers. As a result, some 60,000 tons of plastic bags, which are not biodegradable, end up in landfill sites around Greece each year, according to recycling experts. Alexakis said that if customers are charged for their shopping bags, this number could be halved. He added that the move could also lead to cheaper products since the 2 cents or so that each bag costs are incorporated into the price of items on the supermarket shelves. An estimated 10,000 fish die in the Mediterranean each day because they get caught in plastic bags that end up floating in the sea.