The number of single-use plastic bags used by shoppers has plummeted by 70 percent in one day since the introduction of a nationwide charge in Turkey on Jan. 1, Ahmet Varir, the head of a department spearheading the regulation at the Environment and Urbanization Ministry, has said.

“On the first day of the implementation, we have seen a decrease of up to 70 percent for plastic bag usage in some places. We will see the results more clearly when we announce the figures in 10 to 15 days,” he told state-run Anadolu Agency on Jan. 2.

Grocery stores can set a price higher than 25 kurus (a quarter of one Turkish Lira) for a single plastic bag, but cannot sell it less than this price, according to Varir.

Grocery stores charging more money for the plastic bag would have to declare the revenue generated and give it to the government, he said.

“Grocery stores making profit from the plastic bag is not a matter of discussion. The regulation does not allow this,” he added.

“Before the charge, customers would use three to four bags despite buying one item. Now they bring their own bags or boxes,” a grocer said.

Under a new government regulation, grocery stores in Turkey are obligated to charge customers 25 kurus — 0.25 Turkish Liras — for a single plastic bag. The regulation was introduced on Jan. 1 in a bid to reduce litter.

Each year, tons of plastic, which take hundreds of years to break down, get dumped into oceans and seas, posing a huge danger to marine environment.

Source:  Hurriyet Daily News

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