Stores agree to bin plastic bags

Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis and the country’s top nine supermarket chains yesterday signed an agreement to phase out the use of plastic bags and introduce environmentally friendly ones, joining a growing trend in Europe. The new reusable bags will be available in supermarkets from mid-April at a small cost – which was not determined yesterday – along with plastic bags. From June 1, the scheme will be extended to other cities and supermarkets will begin withdrawing plastic bags. The initiative is to run for five years before being reviewed, Kaklamanis said. Every day, Greek consumers use some 8 million plastic bags – non-biodegradable refuse that ends up on thousands of landfills. «The development of environmental awareness… affects society as a whole and each of us individually,» Kaklamanis said. The supermarkets participating in the initiative are Vassilopoulos, Atlantic, Veropoulos, Galaxias, Carrefour Marinopoulos, Dia, My Market, Sklavenitis and Bazaar. «We need to persuade people to stop using plastic bags,» said Christoper Giokas, sales manager of My Market. «We frequently see shoppers taking five spare bags home,» he added. Kaklamanis said that other retailers have also expressed an interest in implementing the scheme, both in Athens and other cities. «We must realize that time is not on our side,» the mayor said. «We determine the world of tomorrow through the choices we make today,» he added. Similar initiatives restricting, or banning, the plastic bag from supermarkets have been implemented in several EU countries, including France, Belgium and Germany. A tax on the use of plastic bags in Ireland has been particularly successful.