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Plastic bags could be banned amid environmental/pollution concerns

By Ernest Petrosyan
Friday, August 26
With the development of trade and commerce in Georgia, the consumption of plastic [biologically non-degradable] bags has significantly increased. One, while purchasing food and other products in a supermarket can get several plastic bags, due to the commercial “each product in each bag” policy. Such so-called marketing service policy aimed at consumers’ comfort, however, has lead to a critical environment pollution level.

Generally, society’s approach towards the environment protection issues is neglectful, which is revealed through throwing away plastic bags wherever possible, leaving trash while camping or enjoying a picnic. Such an approach has lead to a negative outcome, which can be noticed almost everywhere both in the city and the suburban area. It is enough to look over the Mtkvari river, where the plastic bottles and bags are commonplace, or look up the tress or bushes where the plastic bags are tightly stuck.

Recently the Georgian authorities have been thinking about removing plastic bags from consumption, or set some particular limitation on plastic bag usage. Such talks have been taking place for quite a long time, from both the Ministry of Environment Protection and Georgian Parliament; nevertheless no productive steps have been made so far.

As the Deputy Environment Minister Giorgi Zedgenidze told The Messenger, the ministry, including some other interested sides, is working on the project which will set some restrictions against mass plastic bags usage by introducing a bio degradable alternative. “We cannot entirely remove plastic bags from consumption; however, we are working on some alternative which will significantly replace plastic bags. Paper bags, for instance, are a very good alternative to significantly reduce non-degradable bags. Besides, we need the feedback of supermarket networks, which should change their “each stuff each bag” policy, thereby reducing redundant plastic bags, and introduce an environment friendly alternative”, stated Zedgenidze.

The NGO sector is also actively involved in the reduction of plastic bag usage. Caucasus Environment NGO Network is implementing the “Green Bag” project aimed at replacing polyethylene bags. “Within the framework of our “Green bag” project, material green bags are being sold in various supermarket networks throughout Georgia. Within the project’s campaign we distribute these bags for free in Tbilisi as well as in regions. It is necessary to raise people’s consciousness regarding environmental protection, and these multiple use bags are a good alternative”, said “Green Bag” project manager Nino Shavgulidze.

Some analysts say that if there is an introduction of paper bags, shops and supermarkets most likely will reconsider their price policy, since the production of paper bags is rather costly in comparison to cheap plastic bags, which cost about one cent. Nonetheless they agree that more environmentally friendly materials should be introduced.