Irish plastic bag tax plan approved

Cabinet backs environment minister proposal for levy that could raise euros 130m annually

The Irish government has approved a euros 0.13 (I£0.10) tax to be imposed on every plastic bag sold, it has emerged. An official spokesperson confirmed press reports that the cabinet had backed a proposal first made by environment minister Noel Dempsey last year (ENDS Daily 23 August 1999). It remains unclear when the levy will be introduced.

Mr Dempsey claims that the levy is needed to reduce litter and counter growing waste generation. The policy is set to raise over euros 130m per year, all of which will go to a special environmental projects fund rather than general tax revenues.

The initiative is being vigorously opposed by the Irish Plastics Industry Association, which claims it will cost some of the 20,000 jobs provided by its 60 member firms. It has denounced the levy as "unfair, discriminatory and anti-competitive" and is to complain to the European Commission.

According to director Reg McCabe, the Association will be arguing in Brussels that the levy is discriminatory and anti-competitive in that it applies only to plastic bags. It will also claim that the industry has complied with the 1994 EU packaging directive by participating in a national recycling programme and therefore should not be subjected to additional charges.

Follow Up:
Irish environment ministry, tel: +353 1 888 2000; Irish Plastics Industry Association, tel: +353 1 605 1527.

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