A new environmental law approved by Parliament on Thursday brings more concrete steps in Turkey's struggle to decrease environmental pollution, including a landmark restriction on plastic bags and fines for those not having their vehicles' exhaust emissions measured.
Under new amendments, sellers will be obliged to sell plastic bags for TL 0.25 (approximately $0.05 cents), and they will be fined if they give bags for free to customers. No date has been set for a complete switch to paid plastic bags, particularly in supermarkets and similar venues.
A United Nations report says an estimated 5 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year, and they mainly contribute to maritime pollution as some 8 million tons of plastic including bags are dumped into the ocean every year, killing marine life and entering the human food chain. Baran Bozoğlu, the head of Turkey's Chamber of Environmental Engineers, says the ban on plastic bags is a positive development and use of reusable bags should be encouraged. "People can carry reusable bags while going shopping to minimize the harm to nature," Bozoğlu told Anadolu Agency (AA). He said that although payment for plastic bags can be viewed costly for customers, it would cut greater costs stemming from pollution in the long run. "You have to pay if you create pollution," he said, pointing out that test runs in some supermarkets that sell plastic bags showed customers inclined not to pay, preferring to carry purchased goods in their own reusable bags. The new law also includes a TL 1,250 ($242) fine for owners of motor vehicles who do not measure exhaust gas emission and steeper fines for vessels polluting the sea.