Like most countries in the world, Ireland has found plastic bags a major source of litter and trash. Ireland's solution? In 2002, the government imposed a 15-cent per bag tax that is collected at check out.
The tax has resulted in a 90 percent reduction in use of plastic bags by consumers and brought in about $10 million (U.S.) the first tax year. The money will go toward initiatives to protect the environment. However, the objective of the tax is not to collect revenue but to change consumer behavior.
More than 1 billion plastic bags will be removed from circulation by the tax, according to Ireland's Environment Minister Martin Cullen.
“It is clear that the levy has not only changed consumer behavior in relation to disposable plastic bags, it has also raised national consciousness about the role each one of us can and must play if we are to tackle collectively the problems of litter and waste management,” said Cullen.
Australia, Taiwan, Singapore, South Africa, Britain, and New York City are all considering launching similar initiatives, while Bangladesh has entirely banned the use of polythene bags.