Alonnisos Island Bans Plastic Bags

αλονThe mayor and the residents of Alonnisos decided to ban plastic bags from the island as part of the plan to make it a model for environmental awareness.

The project went into effect on Monday, December 1st, making the Sporades island the first in Greece to take such an initiative in environment protection.

Alonnisos is protected by the European Union Natura program as it is located in the middle of the National Marine Park of the Northern Sporades. Its eco-friendly residents and mayor started a recycling program in 2012 which was very successful.

“People here have had environmental concerns for a number of years, regardless of laws and prohibitions,” Alonnisos Mayor Petros Vafinis told Kathimerini. “There is an eco conscience, which the older generation might have referred to in another way, but essentially, it exists.”

The new project undertaken is for the complete abolition of plastic bags. “Professionals have stopped ordering new shipments and, as a replacement, started putting orders for tissue paper bags and multiple-use plastic ones which they will charge for. Eighty percent of clothing stores are already using paper bags instead. Even outlets selling souvenirs agreed to place orders for paper bags, despite the added expense,” Vafinis said.

In May last year, the European Parliament ratified a directive limiting the use of the thin plastic bags given out in super markets. Member-states are called upon to limit consumption to 90 bags per person per year by the end of 2019 and to 40 bags by 2025.

It is estimated that about 242 plastic bags are used per person every year in Greece. Alternatively, EU countries are called upon to ensure that there will be a charge introduced for plastic bags by the end of 2018.