As Italy, one of the top users of plastic shopping bags in Europe, bans plastic bags from January 1, 2011, FIE has called on the Minister to make good on his commitment to implement the recommendations of its 2009 Regulatory Impact Analysis which showed that ‘The existing legislation is too limited to allow the levy to perform as a fully effective economic instrument'.
Plastic bag usage fell from 1.3 billion bags to 20 million bags a year after the levy was introduced in 2002. The levy was increased in 2007 from 13 cent to 20 cent but usage continues to rise. Ireland now uses 140 million bags a year, yielding over 20 million euro for the Environment fund.
FIE has renewed its call to the Minister to include in the terms of reference of future waste reviews the ‘displacement effect' by which the use of plastic bags has been replaced by paper bags. Consideration of the impact of paper bags was specifically excluded from the terms of reference of the Government's Analysis.
Life Cycle Analysis has shown that paper bags they have significantly more damaging environmental impacts in a number of key areas. ‘The throw away culture that supports single use carrier bags of any kind is environmentally and economically unsound - a cost borne by both the consumer and the environment. There is no cost to the shopper who responsibly uses reusable bags.'