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The plastic bag levy has raised over €200 million since 2002

Figures from the Department of the Environment show a fall in plastic bag usage and therefore the amount of tax taken in recent years.

Image: Gareth Chaney/Photocall Ireland

THE PLASTIC BAG LEVY, introduced over ten years ago, has yielded over €200 million in tax revenue, according to recently released figures.

Figures from the Department of the Environment released in a written answer show that the 22 cent levy has so far raised €7.2 million this year contributing to the overall take of €203.4 million in the last 11 years.

The levy was introduced by former Fianna Fáil Environment Minister Noel Dempsey in March 2002 and was originally set at 15 cent before being increased in mid-2007 to 22 cent.

This saw the yield jump from just under €20 million in 2006 to €26.7 million in 2008 which is still the highest amount taken in a single year since the levy’s introduction.

The onset of the financial crisis saw fewer plastic bags sold in recent years with the €14.2 million taken last year continuing a four-year decline in the amount of revenue raised from the tax indicating fewer bags being purchased by consumers.

Environment Minsiter Phil Hogan said the introduction in the levy led to a drop from an estimated 328 bags per person per year prior to the levy being introduced to 21 bags per person by the end of 2002 and a further reduction to an estimated 14 bags per person by the end of 2012.

Last year’s report by the National Litter Pollution Monitoring System indicated that plastic bags constituted 0.3 per cent of litter in 2012 in comparison to 5 per cent prior to the introduction of the levy.

Ireland’s decision was mirrored by other countries over the last decade with Wales introducing a 5p charge in 2011. Northern Ireland followed suit earlier this year and intends to increase the levy to 10p in April 2014.

Meanwhile Hogan has declined to say how much an increase in the levy to 25 cent or 30 cent would yield, saying “revenue to be obtained from the increases… would be dependent on consumer behaviour in response to any such increase”.

Read: Calls for clarification as Dunnes Stores loses plastic bag levy case

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Hugh O'Connell

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