Cyprus – along with Poland and Greece – could face legal action by the European Union for failing to cut the consumption of environmentally-unfriendly plastic bags still in use after years of warnings about their hazards.
In a press release outlining all June infringements for EU member states, Cyprus was listed as having received a ‘reasoned opinion’ for not complying with EU waste legislations laws and not implementing a directive on disclosure of non-financial and diversity information, the Cyprus Mail reported.
A reasoned opinion is the last step before the Commission may take the member state to the EU Court of Justice if it does not comply within usually two months.
The plastic bag measures were required to be put in place by November 27, 2016, the Commission said,and can include measures ranging from charges or levies to national reduction targets.
“Member States must ensure that no more than 90 of these bags are consumed per person a year by the end of 2019. By the end of 2025, that number should be down to no more than 40 bags per person.
“Both options may be achieved either through compulsory measures or agreements with economic sectors. It is also possible to ban plastic bags provided those bans do not go beyond the limits established by the Directive in order to preserve free movement of goods within the European Single Market.”
In October, 2016, the Cypriot government said it was moving to comply with the EU directives although it didn’t.
According to environmental groups, these bags – which are often only used once – are a scourge on the environment, take several centuries to degrade and are particularly harmful to marine ecosystems.
“We will follow Europe’s line in its campaign against plastic bags as it is apparent that they are harmful to the environment,” Agriculture Minister Nicos Kouyialis said then.
“Some of the new measures being looked into at the ministry including reducing the number of plastic bags, proposing different bags and even putting charges on bag use,” he said.
“And it is not just plastic shopping bags, it is other similar plastics too. We have to comply because it is a problem here in Cyprus too,” continued Kouyialis.