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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 July, 2003, 11:49 GMT 12:49 UK
Ireland cleans up with litter tax
Litter bin
Ireland is taking new steps to combat the problem of litter.
The litter problem on Ireland's streets has prompted the government to bring in a series of new taxes aimed at funding a national clean-up.

The government in the Irish Republic is to introduce a tax on chewing gum, polystyrene food wrappers and cash machine receipts, it announced on Tuesday.

The move follows on from the success of the country's plastic bag tax. Introduced in March of last year, it has cut the number of bags used by an estimated 90% - vastly reducing the numbers of them littering Irish streets and the countryside.

The chewing gum tax is expected to add five to 10 euro cents to the price of a packet and will help fund special "gum-buster" cleaning machines.

I wouldn't want to describe Ireland as a filthy country by any means because we have changed our ways a lot in recent years, but we still have a long way to go.
Martin Cullen
Irish environment minister

The levy on polystyrene food wrapping will be introduced in a bid to make fast food chains switch to recyclable packaging.

Details of the tax on cash machine receipts have not been announced.

Speaking on Irish radio, Environment Minister Martin Cullen said evidence of the litter problem was obvious to see.

"I wouldn't want to describe Ireland as a filthy country by any means because we have changed our ways a lot in recent years, but we still have a long way to go."

He said people could see the problem with chewing gum by looking at "our streets, our footpaths, our pavements right across the country".

"It is costing local authorities millions every year to clean this up and I feel we have to have a polluter paid principle on this where the people who use chewing gum should pay a small tax."

Funds from the tax would be distributed to local authorities for use in the clean-up operation.


Mr Cullen said he hoped fast food outlets would work with the Irish Government and stop using non-biodegradable polystyrene packaging and switch to paper wrapping.

A spokesman for the minister also confirmed that a tax would be introduced on cash machine receipts, but did not give any details.

The Republic's tax on disposable plastic bags has been hailed as a significant success.

Instead of getting the bags for free, shoppers now have to pay 15 cents (nine pence) for each one.

In the three months after it was introduced, shops handed out just over 23 million plastic bags - about 277 million fewer than normal.

Shoppers have been encouraged to use tougher, reusable bags instead. Many retailers also give out paper bags free of charge.

Irish bag tax hailed success
20 Aug 02  |  Europe
Shoppers face plastic bag tax
04 Mar 02  |  Europe
NI shoppers 'would bring their own bags'
04 Mar 02  |  Northern Ireland

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