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Monday, 4 March, 2002, 21:52 GMT
Shoppers face plastic bag tax
Tesco has welcomed the levy
Shoppers in the Republic of Ireland are to be taxed on their use of plastic bags from Monday.

A government order will force all outlets to charge their customers nine pence (15 cent) for each bag they use.

It is estimated that about one billion bags are handed out each year, and the tax could raise 180m euro.

The country's Environment Minister Noel Dempsey has led the government's attempt to reduce the visibility of plastic waste.

The objective is to have customers at every shop, and every outlet to use the same bags over and over again

Feargal Quinn Superquinn

He said the levy was expected to "dramatically reduce the nuisance" and "our insatiable use of free plastic bags".

The move is being made on environmental grounds in an attempt to end the sight of windblown, discarded bags that often litter the Irish countryside.

Feargal Quinn of the chainstore Superquinn said the move was aimed at encouraging people to re-use their plastic bags.

"The objective of the minister in this is not an environmental one only, it is a litter one so it isn't enough to say we will get biodegradable plastic bags or we'll get paper bags because they will cause litter aswell," he said.

"The objective is to have customers at every shop, and every outlet to use the same bags over and over again.

Broad welcome

"That saves the economy money it saves the environment and it solves the litter problem."

The cash raised will go towards schemes aimed at improving the Irish environment nationwide.

Tesco Ireland, one of the country's main supermarket chains, said it welcomed the government initiative.

On Saturday, a spokesman said the company currently handed out 220m bags to customers in Ireland each year.

Their estimate was that the number would be reduced by at least 40% in the first year.


Tesco Ireland's environmental manager, Jim Dwyer said: "Customers are telling us they broadly welcome the introduction of the levy.

"We have seen a marked change in customers' behaviour in anticipation of the new levy, reflected in the significant increase in sales of our re-usable bags."

Information about the "plastax" has been relayed to the public through a TV advertising and billboard campaign.

The Irish Revenue Commissioners, who will be responsible for the collection of the revenue from retailers, issued separate information details outlining the obligations of shops and stores.

However, certain type of plastic bags will be excluded from the levy.

These include re-usable shopping bags which are sold for 70 cents or more, bags used to contain fresh meat, fish or poultry, bags used for loose fruit and vegetables and other foods that are not otherwise packaged.

Fergal Quinn, chief executive of SuperQuinn
"I think it is going to be a real success"
BBC NI's Julian O'Neill:
"Most bags are simply thrown away"
See also:

04 Mar 02 | Northern Ireland
NI shoppers 'would bring their own bags'
04 Mar 02 | Europe
A world drowning in litter
02 Mar 02 | Europe
Plastic bag levy on way
15 Jan 02 | Business
Tesco loses sales edge
03 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
Taiwan to ban free plastic bags
14 May 01 | South Asia
Bombay gets tough on plastic bags
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