The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Mr. Dick Roche, T.D., has announced that the environmental levy on plastic shopping bags would be increased from 15c to 22c per bag, with effect from Sunday 1st July 2007.
The plastic bag levy - which came into effect on 4th 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 - with a decrease in excess of 95% in plastic bag litter.
Surveys indicated that up to 90% of shoppers used long-life bags in 2003, compared with 36% in 1999.
"It is now five years since the plastic bags levy was introduced and its success in Ireland has attracted considerable international interest, with the Irish model being replicated in other countries. We need to ensure that the success story continues into the future.
"There has been no increase in the levy since its inception and I am anxious to ensure that its impact is not diminished. Income from the levy has been increasing in the recent past and data from levies remitted - and population estimates provided by the Central Statistics Office - would indicate that plastic bag usage rose to 30 bags per capita during the course of 2006.
"I am increasing the levy to the maximum of 22 cent allowable under the existing legislation. I am satisfied that it will have the desired effect in stemming the pattern of increased usage of plastic bags that has been evident" - the Minister said.
"As far as the plastic bags levy is concerned - 'less is more'. I will be happier to see a decrease in revenue on account of the increased levy. What I want to see is less use of plastic bags and more use of long-life bags" - the Minister concluded.