Thinking outside the plastic bag: How Greece can reduce the plastic bag consumption
Abstract: In 2015 the EU introduced Directive 2015/720 on the reduction of the consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags creating the first transnational agreement on plastic bag issue in the world. This Directive sets the scope within which Member States will design their own policies in order to reach a significant reduction in the plastic bag consumption over the following years. Greece is one of the countries that have to cover a long way towards the desired outcome, since every Greek consumes on average 363 plastic carrier bags per year, whereas the European average number is 175 plastic bags. The aim of this thesis is to examine whether or not there are both environmentally sound and efficient measures for the reduction in the consumption of plastic bags in Greece within the scope of the Directive, having in mind though that it is an extra advantage if these measures give incentives for improvements beyond the targets of the Directive. This thesis is based on an ex-ante policy evaluation framework that compares alternative policy options taking into account the requirements of the Directive, the priorities of Greece regarding the waste management in the next years and external factors such as market signals and technological development. The collection of data was done through a desktop literature review and interviews with affected stakeholders. The policy evaluation is a partly subjective process, since the final outcome depends on how the collected information is interpreted. For that reason, this thesis does not propose the best policy option among the examined measures but presents risks, costs, benefits and stakeholders’ positions per measure in an organized and easy-to-follow way in order for the policy makers to take advantage of this information and make the final political decision. It is worth mentioning though that according to the conducted evaluation there are policy measures that can be both environmentally sound and cost-effective on the condition that the possible risks are minimised. As a result, which of these options will bring the best results depends on how the affected stakeholders will respond to them (political acceptability and equity).
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