Within days of implementing a policy where consumers have to pay for plastic bags, Turkey’s Environment and Urbanization ministry is claiming that usage has fallen 70 percent.
Ahme Varır, the head of the ministry’s Zero Waste Management Department.
“Besides the usual critics there has been positive feedback from public,” he told the Anatolian News Agency.
“We see that the figures (plastic bag usage rate) have dropped around 40 to 50 percent in places where before it was said the costumer was given a hundreds bags before. Of course, there are places where the decrease is more and places where it is less. We will observe more decreases in the coming period. As a first day reflex, we have observed 70 percent decrease in the usage of plastic bags. We will see the more tangible figures after we will have examined the 10 to 15-day figures,” added Varır.
Varır described the Turkish nation as a “conscious society” and that once there was further understanding of the matter, reactions against the charge on plastic bags would be gradually decrease.
“There is no question of gaining profit from plastic bag charge,” he said.
Under the new regulations which were approved last year retailers have to sell plastic bags 0.25 lira each (approximately $0.05 cents). They will be fined if they give bags for free to customers.
Ömür Yurtseven, a supermarket owner, said that they have not had any negative reactions related to the plastic bag charge.
“As of January 1st, clients bring their previously used plastic bags or other bags. When we told them of the new implementation, people comprehended it. Before the regulation clients were buying [multiple use] bags even if they didn’t need to.”
Aybüke Güneş, a cashier in the market said the clients did not opt for plastic bags since the new laws came into force.
“When I ask whether they want a plastic bag, they say no. However, they say they will carry it with their hands. Before that they would use 3 to 4 bags even if they took one product,” said Güneş, adding that some took their shopping in boxes that they brought with them.
Shopping in a market, a female client Neriman Göçmen said that she like paid plastic bag implementation, but she also said that netted bags should be sold instead of the standard plastic bags.
Nuriye Özçelik, another female client said there were both good and bad aspects to the paid plastic bags.
A male client Muhammed Güler said they have not content with the new implementation. “They rip off the people. Due to this implementation we bought plastic bags in bulk. We chose this method since we use also them as garbage rubbish bags,” said Güler.
One Turkish man returned his plastic bag to BİM (a low-priced supermarket chain in Turkey) after paying the 25 kuruş (Turkish cents) and carrying his purchases home with it. It was seen as a reaction to charging plastic bags.
On the first day of new regulation, charging plastic bags, some other people also shared their reaction via social media
“I’m not satisfied with the bag,” wrote another customer on the sales slip as a reason to return the bag.
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.