ATHENS – Lagging in long-promised plans to rid the country of plastic wastes that winds up in the seas and on beaches, including on the vaunted islands, Greece is trying again – this time by charging 5 cents for customers being given plastic cups, and another 5 cents for the covers.
The target, said Kathimerini, is cups, containers or boxes with takeaway products, such as coffee or food, made of plastic or laminated paper.
The new measure comes after a levy was introduced in 2018 for plastic shopping bags, which led to a sharp decline in their use in supermarkets and after reports of massive amounts of plastic waste.
Data from the Consumer Research Institute (IELKA) showed use of plastic bags fell 99 percent in supermarkets compared to 2017 but it hasn’t been said why plastics aren’t banned outright.
While supermarkets account for up 55 percent of container and bag use, other retail sectors didn’t see a comparable fall in the use of plastic bags, violating laws apparently not being enforced, which is a common problem in Greece.
In June 2020, the New Democray government drafted a bill to ban the use of single-use plastics ranging from straws to coffee cups to cotton buds but they’re still being used.
Big coffee drinkers, Greeks annually use 350 million plastic cups and 2 billion plastic cups, threatening marine life with their careless disposal, the Environment Ministry said at the time.
Environment Minister Kostis Hatzidakis said then that Greece was a laggard compared with some EU countries and belonged “more to the 19th Century” when it came to recycling to control waste.