Tax Helped the Irish Bag Plastic

When gov't enacted 33-cent tax, usage dropped 94% in weeks
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2008 12:13 PM CST
Tax Helped the Irish Bag Plastic
An Israeli truck dumps trash at a site near the village of Nelein, just outside the West Bank city of Ramallah, in this picture taken Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2007. Israeli waste disposal companies, lured by cut-rate dumping prices, have been sending dozens of trucks filled with refuse to villages like Nelein...   (Associated Press)

"Paper or plastic?" is perhaps the last question you'll hear on the Emerald Isle, thanks to a 33-cent tax on each plastic bag that cut Irish consumption by 94% within weeks of its 2002 enactment, reports the New York Times. Cloth bags have become downright fashionable since, but strong manufacturer and merchant opposition has hindered similar efforts in Britain and LA, and laws elsewhere have met mixed results.

Why the success in Ireland? It doesn't hurt that little plastic is manufactured there, or that its hard-nosed environment minister made it illegal for shopkeepers to cover the tax and promised to tax paper bags if used in lieu of plastic. Plans are in the works to tax wastemakers such as ATM receipts and outlaw inefficient incandescent light bulbs entirely. (Read more Ireland stories.)

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