Plastic carrier bags to be abolished

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Plastic shopping bags will soon be a thing of the past in Cyprus, as the parliament is ready to approve legislation prohibiting businesses from giving or selling single-use plastic bags to their customers.

Three and a half years after the surcharge on bags charged five to six cents at supermarkets and other retail establishments, MPs are now looking to ban plastic bags entirely.

This week, MPs of the House Environment Committee evaluated data on the use of plastic bags, hearing officials say that 80% fewer bags are distributed at sales points, compared to the period before the surcharge was imposed.

Banning plastic bags entirely is a one-way street as the European Union is tightening its grip on the use of single-use plastics to protect the environment.

As of 3 July, the EU imposed a ban on selling cotton buds, plastic cutlery, plates, straws, stirrers, and sticks for balloons; other items will be included next year.

The ban on plastic bags means consumers will have to buy or bring their reusable bags when heading for the shops.

The ban also affects delivery services; they will soon have to resort to alternative ways of packaging their products.

Reportedly, manufacturers of plastic bags have requested the House to postpone the ban, giving them time to adjust their businesses.

They argue that their turnover will be affected, in turn putting jobs at risk.

However, some carrier bag producers have long been preparing for the ban, turning to alternative products such as reusable shopping bags.

The bill drafted up by the Agriculture Ministry also bans the use of oxidizable plastic bags, which were considered to be safer for the environment as they were self-degradable.

According to a study by the European Commission, the use of acid-degradable plastic bags harms the environment. This is because it breaks down into smaller pieces.

Banning plastic bags has been on the House agenda since 2017 when MPs launched a discussion over ways to reduce plastic bags in the retail sector.