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City of Athens launches campaign to turn off plastic bags February 11, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Environment, Lifestyle, Shopping.
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Greece’s top supermarket chains and the City of Athens launched Monday a campaign to turn shoppers off plastic bags, some 2.5 billion of which are used nationwide each year.

“We need to persuade people to stop using plastic bags,” Christophoros Giokas, general sales manager at Greek chain My Market, told reporters. “We frequently see shoppers taking five spare bags home.”

Nine chains, AB Vassilopoulos, Atlantic, Veropoulos, Bazaar, Galaxias, Carrefour Marinopoulos, Dia Hellas, My Market Metro, and Sklavenitis, signed a memorandum with Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis to provide reusable and environment-friendly bags on a two-month trial ran starting April 14.

The measure will begin in earnest on June 1 along with efforts to expand it to the rest of the country, Kaklamanis told a news conference. Around 40 percent of Greece’s 11 million people live in Athens, where increasing levels of domestic waste are being generated, the memorandum said.

Plastic bags end up in hundreds of unofficial or substandard landfills around the country that are a major headache for Greek authorities, but also pose a threat to river and marine wildlife. Ninety-eight percent of European sea birds have pieces of plastic in their stomachs, the memorandum said.

The European Union has repeatedly expressed alarm over the disposal of environmentally-hazardous waste at these sites, and Greece is often singled out by both the EU and environmental groups such as Greenpeace and WWF for failing to enforce even its own environmental legislation. Only around 20 percent of waste generated in the country is recycled, the Greek environment ministry said in July.

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