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Greeks reduce usage of plastic bags by 76 pct in Q1 2018: survey
ATHENS, June 5, 2018 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Copyright 2018 XINHUA NEWS AGENCY

by Maria Spiliopoulou

Greeks reduced the usage of plastic carrier bags at supermarkets by 76 percent in the first quarter of 2018 compared with the same period last year, but more work remains to be done, a local consumer group said on Tuesday on World Environment Day.

The usage of plastic bags has fallen sharply after the introduction of charges from Jan. 1 this year, but there is more room for improvement to limit the harmful impact on the environment, the Research Institute of Retail Consumer Goods (IELKA) said in a press briefing.

If this consumption rate continues for the rest of the year, then 1.5 billion fewer bags will be taken by shoppers at Greece's supermarkets, according to IELKA's estimates.

Some 100 million bags were consumed in January to March, generating revenues of three million euros (3.5 million U.S. dollars) for the state, plus Value Added Tax (VAT) of one million euros, the survey showed.

For each plastic carrier bag used at the counter from the New Year, Greeks pay four euro cents and all revenues go to the Greek Recycling Agency for environmental programs.

The aim is to reduce the number of plastic bags used by Greeks, a figure which is double the average in Europe.

According to a 2015 EU directive, by New Year's Eve 2020, European citizens must use 90 or fewer plastic bags per year per person.

Despite the impressive drop this year, at this rate, by 2019 Greeks will use 130 to 135 plastic bags per person, IELKA experts noted.

Given that plastic carrier bags at supermarkets represent about half of the total bags used, IELKA urges the state to reconsider the current exemption from the charge at kiosks and open air markets.

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