Recycling laggard Greece to discard single-use plastic

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Recycling laggard Greece to discard single-use plastic

FILE PHOTO: A volunteer diver of the environmental group Aegean Rebreath gathers plastic waste from the bottom of the sea, off the island of Andros

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece has drafted a bill banning the use of a range of single-use plastics, from takeaway coffee cups to cotton buds, ahead of an EU deadline in 2021, the government said on Tuesday.

Greeks, who are heavy coffee drinkers, annually require 350 million plastic cups and 2 billion plastic bottles, the environment ministry said. In the European Union, about 80% of the litter that ends in the sea, endangering marine life, is plastic.

The EU is to ban a range of single-use plastic items by 2021.

Conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has set environmental issues at the top of his agenda. The government hopes the bill will be voted on by the end of July following a period of public consultation, an official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Environment Minister Kostis Hatzidakis said Greece was a laggard compared with some EU countries and belonged "more to the 19th century" when it came to recycling.

He said the country was announcing its plans now to give people and businesses time to adapt by July 2021.

The minister also announced a set of national measures, including a 0.04 euro surchage for the provision of plastic cups and food containers from 2022 and water facilities in public spaces from July 2021. From 2023, consumers will get a refund if they return plastic bottles.


(Reporting by Renee Maltezou; editing by Barbara Lewis)