Almost a year after the introduction of a law obliging shops to charge for plastic carrier bags, Cypriots have changed their ways, as some 85% less plastic bags have been distributed at supermarket counters since July 2018 when the law was imposed.
The Pancyprian Association of Retail Trade (PASYLE) appear to be pleased with the reduction in plastic bags used by Cypriot shoppers, which sees Cyprus fulfilling at least one of its environmental targets.
"The astonishing reduction in the use of plastic bags was achieved in record time. People were swift in adjusting to the change and without any particular reaction,” said the President of PASYLE, Marios Antoniou in comments to Philenews.
Antoniou also referred to a meeting his association had with the Ministry of Agriculture and Environment, during which they had discussed a Ministry proposal to abolish the use of plastic bags entirely.
Antoniou expressed his reservations regarding the debate over banning the use of plastic bags.
"We are against such a development, as we have told the ministry. We are talking about reducing the plastic bag and not abolishing it. The Member States have achieved the targets set for the per capita use of plastic bags, and so has Cyprus. I do not see the reason abolish them," said Antoniou.
The association is worried that abolishing plastic bags will have negative effects on tourism.
“Completely abolishing plastic bags would force tourists to bring their own or to buy reusables, which is not acceptable.”
Asked whether supermarkets have seen their revenues impacted after the reduction of plastic bags, he said supermarkets have saved some money.
This money, he said, is being used in campaigns to raise public awareness, to promote and enhance environmental consciousness.
"Several hypermarkets have gone on to create ads and campaigns on the issue.”
Free distribution of plastic bags at the tills of supermarket and other retail shops was banned as of 1 July 2018, while a compulsory charge of six cents is applied for each plastic bag given to consumers.