One of the things I noticed when I first arrived in Ireand was the plastic bag levy. It’s a 15c charge on every plastic bag applied at the checkout. Must say that this is quite successful – most people carry around a few plastic bags and a lot of retailers have switched to paper bags.
It’s impact on my is definately there, and I considered myself to be reasonable conscious of my plastic bag useage. Now I have a couple of those great bags that fold into themselves (they fit in my handbag) and even if I’m going shopping and not for groceries I’ll take along a bag or two. If I need to pop into the store after work I will beg and borrow a plastic bag rather than buy one at the counter if I haven’t got a bag on me. In the past if I didn’t have a bag on me I’d just grab the plastic ones at the checkout and not think of it.
But it’s not until you go elsewhere that you really notice the difference. In London they don’t have such a levy and every shop will hand you a plastic bag, I actualy feel quite disgusted by it and try to take as few as possible. People look at you strangely when you pull out your own bags there. In a way shopping in other countries makes shopping in Ireland seem cleaner.
They’re about to up the levy to 22c, which is the highest they can make it. And I must say I agree. I actually would agree with this being introduced all over the world. The only thing I’d do (and it’s hard to police but not impossible) is perhaps to introduce one levy for plastic bags using new plastic and another for plastic bags using recycled plastic. And you know, I’d also welcome a small charge for paper bags too. After all they use bleach and still contribute to landfill.