Bagging Success

Tax on plastic shopping bags in Ireland pays rich dividends

Published: Monday 30 September 2002

The Irish government has achieved twin targets in one stroke. A 'green' tax on plastic shopping bags has not just raised us $3.45 million for the country's state coffers in the five months, but has reduced the use of these disposable bags.

Under the scheme, the retailer charges customers 15 cents per plastic shopping bag. The revenue thus generated goes into a new environment fund which will be used to support waste management and other environmental initiatives. "The move has been an outstanding success ," said Irish environment minister Martin Cullen. The legislation has had an immediate and discernible impact. Most apparent is the fact there are less wind-blown plastic bags clogging the drains today in the country.

This welcome change can be attributed to a 90 per cent fall in the number of plastic bags, which were being given away by the shops. The shoppers are also becoming smarter. One of them who now carries a reusable bag with her said , "If the groceries are not going to fit in the bags which I carry, the piddling 15-cent bag charge makes me think about my impulsive buying."

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