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Plastic Bag Environmental Levy in Ireland 

Department of the Environment and Local Government 4mar02

[as gaeilge ] and [Consultancy Study on Plastic Bags 19aug99 ]


The Plastic Bag Environmental Levy is a charge on plastic shopping bags that will be introduced throughout Ireland on 4th March 2002. The charge will apply at the point of sale in shops, supermarkets, service stations and all sales outlets. Retailers must pass on the full amount of the levy as a charge to customers at the checkout. The charge for your plastic shopping bag will be itemised on all invoices, receipts or dockets issued to customers. 

Environmental Fund 

It is estimated that some 1.2 billion plastic shopping bags are provided free of charge to customers in retail outlets annually. This is excessive and largely unnecessary. Plastic bags are a very visible component of litter in Ireland throughout our towns, coastlines and in the countryside. They have a negative impact on our environment and on our wildlife and their habitats. The charge is being introduced to encourage the use of reusable bags and to change people's attitudes to litter and pollution in Ireland. 

Revenue generated from the Plastic Bag Environmental Levy will go into the new Environmental Fund. This fund will be used to support waste management, litter and other environmental initiatives. 

You will not be charged for all plastic shopping bags as there are some exemptions: 

Exemptions from the levy
Smaller plastic bags that are used to store non-packaged goods such as:

The levy also does not apply to:

The levy is 15 cent per bag carrying goods that are not exempt. 

Retailers are obliged by law to pass on this charge to you and your receipt must reflect the charge for the bag. 

Further information on the Plastic Bag Environmental Levy, including 10 steps that can be taken to improve our environment, is available from:

Department of the Environment and Local Government,
Custom House,
Dublin 1.
Tel: (01) 888 2000
LoCall: 1890 20 2021 
Fax: (01) 888 2888
E-mail: press-office@environ.irlgov.ie  
Document created: 2002-02-06

Cáin Timpeallachta ar Mhálaí Plaisteacha
Táille a ghearrfar ar mhálaí siopadóireachta plaisteacha a thiocfaidh i bhfeidhm in Éirinn ar an 4 Márta 2002 í an Cháin Timpeallachta ar Mhálaí Plaisteacha. Gearrfar an táille ag an ionad íocaíochta i siopaí, ollmhargaí, stáisiúin seirbhíse agus gach ionad díolta eile. Ní mór don dhíoltóir an cháin iomlán a bhaint den chustaiméir mar tháille ag an ionad íocaíochta. Beidh an táille don mhála siopadóireachta plaisteach luaite ar gach sonrasc, admháil nó doiciméad eisithe do chustaiméirí. 

Ciste na Timpeallachta
Meastar go gcuirtear tuairim is 1.2 billiún mála siopadóireachta plaisteach ar fáil in aisce sa bhliain do chustaiméirí in ionaid díolta. Is mór an méid é seo agus níl aon ghá leis. Feictear málaí plaisteacha caite mar bhrúscar ar fud bailte, cósta agus tuaithe na hÉireann. Tá droch thionchar acu ar an timpeallacht, ar fhiadhúlra agus ar a ngnáthóga. Tá an táille seo dhá chur i bhfeidhm le daoine a spreagadh le h-úsáid a bhaint as málaí eile arís agus arís agus le dearcadh pobal na hÉireann a athrú i dtaobh brúscair agus truaillithe. 

Cuirfear an Cháin Timpeallachta ar Mhálaí Plaisteacha ar fad a bhailítear isteach sa Chiste Timpeallachta nua. Beidh airgead ón gciste seo ar fáil le tacaíocht a chur ar fáil do scéimeanna bainistíochta brúscair, scéimeanna brúscair agus scéimeanna timpeallachta eile. 

Ní ghearrfar táille ort as gach mála plaisteach siopadóireachta tharla roinnt eisceachtaí a bheith ann:

Eisceachtaí ón gCáin
Málaí beaga plaisteacha ar son earraí nach bhfuil aon phacáiste orthu cheana ar nós:

Táirgí déiríochta 
Torthaí, glasraí nó cnónna 
Bia déanta roimh ré, bíodh sé té nó fuar 
Leac oighir 
ní ghearrfar aon cháin orthu. 

Ní bhaineann an cháin ach an oiread le:

Málaí beaga plaisteacha le haghaidh feola úir a choinneáil, iasc agus éanlaith clóis, a bhfuil agus nach bhfuil aon phacáiste orthu 
Málaí don saol a chosnaíonn ós cionn 70 ceint 
Málaí a chuirtear ar fáil do phaisinéirí in aerfoirt agus i gcalafoirt agus do phaisinéirí ar bord eitleáin tráchtála agus ar bord loing. 
15 ceint an mála an cháin a ghearrfar ar son earraí nach bhfuil saor ón gcáin. 

Tá dualgas dleathúil ar mhiondíoltóirí an táille seo a ghearradh ort agus ní mór don táille a bheith le feiceáil ar an admháil a thugtar duit. 

Déan teaghmháil le
Is féidir tuilleadh eolais maidir leis an gCáin Timpeallachta ar Mhálaí Plaisteacha, chomh maith le 10 gcéim gur féidir a thógáil le feabhas a chur ar ár dtimpeallacht, a fháil ón

Roinn Chomhshaoil agus Rialtais Áitiúil
Teach Custaim
Baile Átha Cliath 1
Teil: 01 888 2000
LoCall: 1890 20 20 21
Facs: 01 888 2888
E-mail: press-office@environ.irlgov.ie 

Web site: http://www.environ.ie/main.html 


Consultancy Study on Plastic Bags Recommends Tax on Plastic Bags 

Minister for the Environment and Local Government, Ireland 19aug99

Mr. Noel Dempsey T.D., Minister for the Environment and Local Government, today (19 August) announced the publication of a Consultancy Study on Plastic Bags, saying "The day of the plastic bag is coming towards an end." 

"It is the policy of this Government to tax plastic bags as a means of discouraging their use", the Minister said. "Over 1.2 billion plastic bags are handed out, free of charge, every year to customers in about 19,000 shops and other retail outlets throughout this country. Most end up in landfill. Too many end up in the environment as litter. They are an eyesore on our streets and roadsides, and in hedges and trees throughout the countryside. In addition, plastic bag pollution is a threat to our ecosystems, natural habitats and wildlife. We simply cannot allow this to continue. People need to think twice about taking plastic bags in the first instance and make sure they dispose of them properly when there is no further use for them." 

The purpose of the study was to examine the use of plastic bags in Ireland and their effects on the environment. In doing so the consultants gave detailed consideration to issues relating to compliance with EU legislation, administrative costs, secondary environmental impacts and effects on employment. 

Minister Dempsey said that the study was comprehensive, assessing several different policy options to address the environmental problems created by plastic bags. "While many of the options considered in the study presuppose the continued use of plastic bags, it's clear that if we are to eradicate plastic bag pollution once and for all, we need firm and progressive measures with a real capacity to reduce the use of these bags." The study concludes that some form of levy or tax offers the most appropriate means of reducing consumption of plastic shopping bags and thereby reducing consequent environmental problems. 

"Litter is everyone's problem and we have to tackle it together. I am making the consultancy study available so that the plastics industry, the wholesale and retail sectors, and the public can examine its findings. I look forward to having the views of all interests within the next two months, and I will take them into consideration in our final decision-making. But let there be no mistake: we mean to act." the Minister concluded. 

The Report's Conclusions and Recommendations are attached below. 

Conclusions and Recommendations 

This report has sought to address the objective set out in the Brief to Consultants, i.e. to examine the use of plastic shopping bags in Ireland and their effects on the environment. 

Free plastic shopping bags are a ubiquitous feature of the Irish retailing environment. Of the estimated 14,000 tonnes placed on the Irish market annually some 21% would appear to be sourced from home manufacturers while the remainder is imported - mainly from the rest of the EU and certain South-east Asian countries. The trend in recent years has been strongly in the direction of increased imports at the expense of the home product. However there are still four companies, employing 177 persons, engaged in the manufacture of plastic bags in Ireland. 

Most of the product consumed annually is landfilled as part of the domestic waste stream. An unknown proportion appears as litter. The environmental impact of the landfilled quantity is likely to be low due to the essentially inert or unreactive nature of the material. Bags that appear as litter are clearly a source of considerable, if unquantifiable, nuisance and environmental disamenity. 

While efforts have been made over recent years by many retailers to encourage the use of alternatives to the free plastic shopping bag these have not been particularly successful to date - mainly due, it would seem, to consumer apathy. 

Opportunities for recycling recovered quantities of plastic shopping bags are currently limited in Ireland due to a lack of infrastructure both in terms of collection and processing. 

Having assessed a range of policy instruments it is considered that a levy of some form offers the most appropriate means of reducing consumption of plastic shopping bags and thereby reduce consequent environmental problems. This conclusion has been reached following a detailed consideration of issues relating to compliance and administrative costs, secondary environmental impacts and effects on employment. 

Other policy instruments, e.g. enhanced litter control measures by local authorities, may be more effective in addressing the specific aspect of litter as a levy can only impact on this indirectly by reducing bag consumption. However, these approaches are either end-of-pipe in nature or they are likely to be more costly or both. 

Of the several types of levy systems available either a point of sale or a supply based approach is possible. Both have merits and disadvantages. The former (point of sale) approach has the benefit of adhering more tightly to the polluter pays principle in targeting end consumption, but may be compromised by administrative complexity. 

By targeting manufacturers and wholesalers the supply based levy is administratively simpler. It is likely to be less effective however in reducing plastic bag consumption per unit of levy than a point of sale system (without any exemptions) as it offers the possibility of suppliers absorbing some of the levy to maintain bag sales. 

On balance it is suggested that the supply based approach is preferable. 

It is accordingly recommended that a charge in excess of 3p per unit be levied on plastic shopping bags destined for use in the Irish market from whatever source (home produced or imports). 

Although it may invite scrutiny with regard to compliance with EU law the proposed levy is unlikely to run counter to the principles of the EC Treaty. Indeed a levy on plastic bags would be compatible with the general policy direction of the European Commission which, in principle, supports the use of market based instruments as a means of achieving higher standards of environmental protection. This view is however contingent on there being more quantitative evidence on the contribution of plastic bags to the environmental problems of litter. 

With the latter point in mind it is further recommended that data on the content and origin of litter be extended and improved through the medium of the National Litter Survey or some other suitable means. 

Tracking of the cost-effectiveness of local authority litter management activities is another essential requirement in the process and could be achieved by (i) ensuring all expenditures in this area are separately identified in the annual Local Authority Estimates and (ii) allocating a Cleanliness Rating to all major towns and cities on an annual basis. 

source: http://www.environ.ie/press/plasticbags.html 30mar02

What is the plastic shopping bag levy?


From 4th March, 2002 an environmental levy will be charged, at 15 cent per bag, on plastic shopping bags 

This levy is designed to get people to make more environmentally friendly choices by using fewer plastic bags – a major cause of litter in Ireland

Proceeds from the levy will go into the Environment Fund and will be used to fund litter, waste management and other environmental initiatives
If you want to avoid paying the levy make sure that you make alternative arrangements for carrying your shopping - e.g. use reusable bags

The result? There should be less litter and a better environment for everybody.

Retailers must charge you for each bag and this must be itemised separately on your receipt. Certain types of bags will be excluded from the

Issued by the Department of the Environment and Local Government/Revenue Commissioners. January, 2002.

Further information on the levy can be obtained on www.10steps.ie from the Environment Section of your local authority from ENFO, the Environmental Information Service (Tel: 01-8882001 or 1890-200191 (LoCall)) or from the Press Office, Department of the Environment and Local Government (Tel: 01-8882638).

This is one of the 10 Steps to a better environment.

source: http://www.environ.ie/whatsnew/pblevyposter.pdf 30mar02

The Ten Steps

Take a few minutes to find out about ten simple steps that make it easy to make a difference - Just click on the numbers on this page.. 

say NO to plastic

  1. Say No to Plastic Bags
    Plastic bags are the most visible item of litter on our streets and in the countryside. When you buy a newspaper or a bar of choclate, tell the shop assistant you don't need a bag. Buy some reusable bags for the supermarket shopping.

  2. Shop for the Environment
    Avoid over packaged products. Buy products in recyclable packaging and buy products made from recycled materials. Look out for the EU
    Eco-Label which is the guarantee that a product has a reduced impact on the environment.

  3. Get into Recycling
    Most homes are located within reach of a bottle or can bank. Separate your bottles, cans and other recyclable items such as clothes and get into recycling.

  4. Compost your Waste
    Composting is an easy way to dispose of your kitchen waste and old newspapers to improve your garden. Contact ENFO or your local authority for information on composting.

  5. Don't Litter and Don't Tolerate Those that Do
    Most of us claim it's our number one environmental problem, yet half of us admit to doing it.

  6. Water is Life
    The water we use in our homes is a valuable commodity. It has to go through a very expensive treatment process before we get it. Did you know that showers use less then half the water that baths do ? Or that a dripping tap loses hundreds of litres of water a year ? And instead of hosing your garden, why not use rainwater collected in a barrel ?

  7. Dispose of Waste Liquids Correctly
    Avoid pouring these liquids down drains by making use of any special facilities in your area. Always carefully read the instructions on the packaging and dispose of safely. By doing this you will keep our rivers, lakes and seas clean.

  8. Do Short Journeys in Short Time
    It takes ten minutes to walk a distance of one kilometre. It takes even less to cycle it. So ask yourself, do you really need to use the car for short journeys ? Especially when you remember that car emissions pollute the air and damage the environment.

  9. Turn Down and Switch Off
    Try not to overheat your home. Every one degree you turn down saves you 10% on your heating bill. Switch off lights when you leave the room and turn the TV off at the plug. A TV in stand-by mode can use as much as half the electricity as when it is turned on. Saving energy saves the environment.

  10. Become Label Conscious
    Choose energy labels A or B when buying a new washer, dryer, freezer or dishwasher. You will save energy and money.

Take the tour and get simple tips on how to make even more of a difference !
Go to:

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