Charge increased to ensure 'sufficient deterrent' to shoppers who arrive at checkout counters with no bags Ireland has revealed plans to double the tax on plastic bags as a way of protecting the country's environment.
The Irish Republic was the first nation to tax plastic bags, and now Dublin's Fianna Fail-Green party coalition plans to increase the levy to €44 cents (40p) per bag.
The Irish Department of the Environment said the charge would be doubled to ensure a "sufficient deterrent" to shoppers who arrived at checkouts with no bags of their own.
The move comes as part of an environmental bill scheduled to be published next month. The seven-year policy of charging for plastic bags has generated more than €120m (£109m) in tax.
It has also sharply reduced Irish reliance on throwaway bags, the annual use of which once numbered 1.2bn per year – more than 300 bags for every man, woman and child.
The success of the tax has been noted around the world, with countries and communities from Jersey to India considering following the Irish example.
In the three months after the tax was introduced in 2002, shops in the Republic handed out just over 23m plastic bags – about 277m fewer than normal.
Irish shoppers are encouraged to use tougher reusable bags instead, and many retailers give out recyclable paper bags free of charge.
The doubling of the tax will also help Ireland at a time of recession, when the nation's public finances are being squeezed.
Since the plastic bag tax's introduction, some of the revenue has been channelled into local government services which are aimed at improving and protecting the environment.