ATHENS – Greece's New Democracy government is stepping up plans to rid the country of the scourge of single-use plastics that will be prohibited as of July 3, 2021 under the current timetable.
A law drafted by the Environment Ministry is aimed at reducing the harmful impact of certain plastics on the environment, including plastic cutlery like forks, knives, spoons, chopsticks, plates, straws, food and beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene, and drink stirrers, said Kathimerini.
Oxo-biodegradable bags presented as an “ecological” alternative to ordinary bags are banned too after it was found they break down into smaller harmful pieces and don't safely degrade.
The government has talked up the ban since since September, 2019, just two months after taking office, vowing to finally do something in a country where many still toss recyclables into rubbish dumpsters.
Greece has required businesses to charge customers who want plastic bags but didn't ban them in favor of reusable carriers such as cloth, but the measure still reducing single-use plastic bags up to 85 percent, said the Institute of Retail Consumer Goods (IELKA).
At the time, Ilianna Kosta, a product designer of a local manufacturer of bamboo-made biodegradable utensils, told the Chinese news agency Xinhua that banning single use plastics may seem more difficult, but can work in Greece.
"The Greek market is working very hard to show progress in this respect, and is advancing fast. Local business has made a dynamic entry in environment-friendly products and the Greek society has also matured toward that," he said.
“We get so much more interest from various businesses for our plastic-free products, and several other companies like ours have sprung out after we launched our business in 2016," said Kosta.
At the end of May, Environment & Energy Minister Kostis Hatzidakis said the ban will cover plastics used only once before they are thrown away or recycled, including plastic bags, straws, coffee stirrers, soda and water bottles and most food packaging, said the Sydney-based Greek City Times.
He also announced consumers will be provided with more incentives to encourage recycling of plastic single-use bottles, including a refund. “Every day, we use a million plastic cups of coffee in Greece,” Hatzidakis noted.
The use of plastics “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,” he said, the report added.