Moves towards banning single-use plastics in Greece

Moves towards banning single-use plastics in Greece

Moves towards banning single-use plastics in Greece

Greece aims to be one of the first countries in the European Union to end the use of single-use plastics.

A draft bill banning the use of a range of single-use plastics, from takeaway coffee cups to cotton buds, was presented by the Environment & Energy Minister Kostis Hatzidakis.

Greeks, who are heavy coffee drinkers, annually require 350 million plastic cups and 2 billion plastic bottles, the minister said.

In the European Union, about 80% of the litter that ends in the sea, endangering marine life, is plastic.

The EU is to ban a range of single-use plastic items by July 2021 including:

  • Single-use plastic cutlery (forks, knives, spoons and chopsticks)
  • Single-use plastic plates
  • Plastic straws
  • Cotton bud sticks made of plastic
  • Plastic balloon sticks
  • Oxo-degradable plastics and food containers and expanded polystyrene cups

Conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has set environmental issues at the top of his agenda. The government hopes the bill will be voted on by the end of July following a period of public consultation.

For all products that are banned there will be available alternatives, with respect to the environment, while the ban will start six months earlier for the public sector, in order to "show the world that we are taking the first step and that our words and actions go hand in hand," the minister stated.

The goal is to reduce consumption in plastic cups and plastic food containers by 30% by 2024 and by 60% by 2026.

Hatzidakis said Greece was a laggard compared with some EU countries and belonged “more to the 19th century” when it came to recycling.

The minister also announced a set of national measures, including a €0.04 surcharge for the provision of plastic cups and food containers from 2022 and water facilities in public spaces from July 2021.

From 2023, consumers will get a refund if they return plastic bottles.

It is recalled last month, at Schinias beach in Athens where volunteers cleaned the beach from plastics, Hatzidakis announced that Greece will introduce an end to disposable plastics as of July 2021.

“Every day, we use a million plastic cups of coffee in Greece,” Hatzidakis noted, correlating it to the overwhelming majority of garbage found in the sea – up to 85 pct of which is plastics, with 50 pct of these being single-use plastics, he said. “This cannot continue, so we are moving ahead with this initiative, which the prime minister himself has strongly supported, and which must be done in tandem with citizens,” the minister stressed.

Foundation Executive Direction Angeliki Kosmopoulou, coordinating the beach clean-up, said that “Greece is taking a great leap forward” in legislating the end of disposable plastics, but added that it should be accompanied by a public awareness campaign as well.

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