The plastic bag levy, which came into effect on 4 March 2002, had an immediate effect on consumer behaviour, with plastic bag per capita usage decreasing overnight from an estimated 328 bags to just 21. This had an immediate benefit to our environment: a decrease in excess of 95% in plastic bag litter.
The levy was increased to the maximum of 22 cent allowable under the existing legislation. This increase is contained within S.I. No. 167 of 2007 - Waste Management (Environmental Plastic Bag Levy - Amendment No. 2) Regulations 2007
All plastic bag levy receipts together with landfill levy receipts are paid into a ring-fenced Environment Fund.
To date, the Fund has been used to support:
- The provision of civic recycling facilities and bring centres
- Operational costs of running civic recycling facilities
- Enforcement of the Waste Management Acts
- North/South waste initiatives such as the award winning all-island scheme for the management of waste fridges and freezers
- Waste awareness campaigns
- The very successful "Green Schools" initiative
There are exceptions for bags of certain sizes, and for bags that contain fresh fruit, unpackaged vegetables, meats and certain other products.
The retailer is obliged to itemise the levy on cash register receipts given to the customer.