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As from June 1, Altesa Supermarkets started charging for their biodegradable plastic bags at one céntimo each. On its' sales ticket it says "Help protect our Islands. Everyone for the environment." also referring clients to a website referring to degradable plastics.
As an alternative, Altesa are offering a re-usable bag for three euros, which they will replace, free of charge, if it breaks. So far HiperDino and Mercadona, two other leading supermarkets in Tenerife, give recyclable plastic bags away free.
Charges for plastic bags that are not recyclable in various European countries (including parts of Spain) are mandatory because they are manufactured with by-products such as petroleum that inflates energy costs. In Ireland the charge is approved of as an eco-tax. In Catalonia it has been against the law to give away plastic bags free since January this year.
The Department of Environment has announced that it will prohibit plastic bags by 2010, although Greenpeace maintains that the Government has somewhat softened its stance.