Applaud Ireland for Setting Example with Plastic Bag Tax

Target: Ireland Department of Environment, Community and Local Government

 Goal: Thank Ireland for the impact and inspiration caused by their plastic bag tax

In 2002, Ireland made the cutting edge decision to impose a 15-cent tax on plastic bags. Anytime someone went to the supermarket or to a shop, they would be charged if they chose to use a plastic bag. The tax resulted in a 90 percent decrease in disposable plastic bag use. All the money from the tax goes directly to the environment ministry to be used towards its sustainability endeavors. Since then, countries like Spain, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Norway have also implemented a bag tax or other form of legislation to deter plastic bag use. Nobody likes to pay taxes, and Ireland took a risk when it instituted its plastic bag tax.  Commend Ireland for the positive environmental influence it has had.

While many countries offer these plastic bags for free, doing so comes at a great cost to the environment. Plastic is not biodegradable because of its molecular stability. When they don’t end up in landfills, plastic bags often end up blowing away until they land in sewer systems or enter waterways. The plastic bags then release a substance that is harmful to the health of humans and wildlife. The synthetic granules that comprise the bag may never fully break down, and end up in leeching into the soil and water. In the North Pacific Central Gyre, an area in the Pacific Ocean where trash accumulates due to the currents, it is common to find fish with large amounts of plastic in their stomachs.   The plastic bag tax encourages people to bring reusable bags when they shop. Though nothing that is manufactured is truly sustainable, these bags greatly reduce the impact from disposable plastic bags when used over time. Thank Ireland for imposing a tax that prioritizes the planet over convenience, and makes a visible impact.


Dear Ireland’s Department of Environment, Community and Local Government,

About a decade ago you implemented a tax on plastic bags. Though proposing any taxes could result in unpopularity with the public, you went through with it anyway and put the environment ahead of convenience. Your courageous decision has been one of the most successful plastic laws ever instated, with 90 percent of residents switching to reusable bags within the first year.

In addition to preventing your own country from contributing to the millions of plastic bags that end up as waste each year, you have started a chain reaction. Other countries have witnessed your success and followed suit. Laws preventing or reducing plastic bag use have popped up all over the world since you set the example. This tax has shown other the direct impact made when individuals make a small change, and that is one of the most powerful ways to inspire others to take action too. Keep up the good work.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: ekai via Flickr

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  1. Lucy Kelly says:

    Why not simply enforce that all shopping bags/plastics be biodegradable? Surely that would be the best solution?

  2. Lucy Kelly says:

    Y d we allow the production of nonbiodegradable plastic shopping bags, anyway? It’s only to please the supermarkets, which are owned by rich people who then burn them in incinerators IN POOR AREAS, so WE suffer the health damage, not THEM!

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