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    Plastic Bags

    Myths: Fact or Fiction

    Degrade in Landfill Myth

    The Single Use Myth

    Recycling

    Paper vs. Plastic Bags


    Paper vs. Plastic Studies

    Reusables Greener?

    Types of Bags

    Litter: The Facts
    Public Health

    Canada Update

    Bags Around the World

    The Oil Myth

    Made in Canada
    Ireland's Bag Tax
    Ireland's Bag Tax

    Fiction: The Irish bag tax (a de facto ban) significantly reduced plastic bag litter in Ireland.

    Fact: No. The bag tax had little to no impact on litter reduction. Bags comprised only 0.75% of total litter in the country, prior to the bag tax. They ended up consuming more resources, more paper and more plastic.

    The Facts

    • The Irish bag tax did not solve a litter problem.?But it did have a number of unintended consequences with environmental impacts.
    • In 2002, the Republic of Ireland imposed a (EU) €0.17 tax on plastic shopping bags to discourage bag usage because of an overestimated litter concern that plastic shopping bags comprised 5% of the litter stream and the visual pollution was hurting tourism.
    • The reality is that plastic shopping bags (according to Ireland's 2001 litter audits) were only 0.75% of litter.1
    • The tax did not solve the litter problem, only the perception of a problem.
    • Consequences after eight years of the bag tax, the bag tax in Ireland:
      • had a negligible impact on litter reduction which remained at less than 1%
      • increased paper bag litter from 0.35% to 0.38% of total litter, as residents switched from plastic to paper
      • increased the consumption of paper bags (+400%) and plastic (+20%)

    The bag tax ultimately failed. Why?

    • First, there was no bag litter problem. Second, the Irish tax failed to take into account that plastic bags are a necessity and have high reuse for household waste. The result was that the tax forced consumers to purchase cheaper, thicker plastic kitchen catcher type bags off the shelf. Sales of kitchen catchers increased +77% which put a disproportionately high percentage of new plastic into the waste stream because the bags are thicker than regular plastic shopping bags.2

    More Detail

    Real Litter Rate of 0.75%

    Reasons Ireland Introduced the Bag Tax to Reduce the Consumption of Plastic Shopping Bags:

     Was the Bag Tax a Success?

    Imports of bags into the Republic of Ireland from EU & Non-EU Countries


    YEAR
    1996
    1997
    1998
    1999
    2000
    2001
    2002
    2003
    2004
    2005
    2006

    EU
    12,204
    13,939
    16,724
    16,345
    17,575
    18,275
    20,730
    19,016
    19,028
    22,379
    24,515

    NON EU
    8,453
    6,604
    10,439
    10,916
    12,872
    11,571
    5,612
    5,092
    4,149
    5,398
    7,134

    TOTAL
    20,747
    20,543
    27,163
    27,261
    30,447
    29,846
    26,342* 
    24,108
    23,177
    27,777
    31,649**

    Source: Her Majesty's Customs Department Importation Statistics on all bags imported in Ireland.

    * Tax implemented March 2002.
    ** 2006 Unintended impact is MORE plastic used NOT LESS.+20.1


    1 LITTER QUANTIFICATION SURVEY Pages 14 & 15
    2 http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/57346/0016899.pdf Page 18 Shopping bags
    3 A Strategy for Developing Recycling Markets in Ireland
    4 http://www.litter.ie/Reports/6516%20Final%20Annual%20Report%202011%20300512.pdf
    5 http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/57346/0016899.pdf page 18


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