Levy on plastic bags in Ireland

Project information

Index: 0694R2
Priority:2: Environment and risk prevention
Sub Theme:Waste management
Location IRELAND IRELAND Southern and Eastern Start/End date of the practice
Start: November 2011

Topic of the practice

Waste Prevention - Reducing the quantity of plastic bags distributed to consumers

Good Practice Information

In the 90’s plastic bags constituted significant litter problem. They accounted for 5% of litter in Ireland with a highly visible impact, countering Ireland’s image as clean & green. A new Government in 1997 committed to examine means of discouraging the use of plastic bags. The Irish plastic bag levy was introduced in March 2002 under the Waste Management (Environmental Levy) (Plastic Bag) Regulations 2001. Initially, the tax was set at €0.15 per plastic bag, with exemptions for smaller plastic bags that met specific conditions and used to store non-packaged goods such as dairy products, fruit and vegetables, nuts, confectionary, hot or cold cooked food and ice –these are known as levy-free bags (reusable plastic bags are also exempt as long as the charge for the bag exceeds €0.70).The tax is passed directly to consumers at the point of sale, and has thus been reported to provide a clearer, more consistent message than systems where retailers are responsible for the levy
The tax was implemented to ‘change consumers’ behaviour to reduce the presence of plastic bags in the rural landscape, and to increase public awareness of littering’. Revenues from the tax are paid into an Environmental Fund which is administered by the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government. The fund is used to cover administrative costs (3% of total revenues) and support a wide range of environmental programmes. The costs of implementation are reported to be very low because bookkeeping and reporting has been integrated with VAT returns

Evidence of success

has been reported that this policy has been very effective and has ‘proved so popular with the Irish public that it would be politically damaging to remove it’. Currently, 90% of shoppers use reusable/long life bags, 6% use cardboard boxes, 4% plastic bags and 1% other means

Contact details to obtain further information on the practice

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