The plastic bag environmental levy is to be increased from 15 cent to 22 cent to counter a recent growth in their use, it was announced today.
It is the first increase since the levy was introduced in March 2002. The new rate will come into effect on Sunday, July 1 st.
Minister for the Environment Dick Roche said the measure has resulted in a 95 per cent reduction in the use of plastic shopping bags, with the average annula per capita usage dropping from 328 to 21.
However, he warned that recent data from the Central Statistics Office show that plastic bag usage rose to an average of 30 per person last year.
Sales of plastic bags dropped to a record low of 85 million following the introduction of the levy in March 2002. However, an estimated 130 million were sold by the end of 2006.
The Department of the Environment collected €7 million in levies in 2002. That figure rose to €17 million last year.
The Minister said he was hopeful the increase in the levy, which is the highest permissible under law, would help to reverse this trend.
"I will be happier to see a decrease in revenue on account of the increased levy," he said "What I want to see is less use of plastic bags and more use of long life bags."