Ireland environmental group calls for levy on paper shopping bags

In Canada the plastic shopping bag issue seems to have gone quiet, at least temporarily, since the City of Toronto recently set aside a proposal to ban single use bags. In Ireland, however, the issue has taken an unexpected but potentially scientifically correct twist.

Many readers will know that Ireland was the first country to apply a levy, currently the equivalent of a bout 22 cents, on single use plastic shopping bags. The levy was intended to discourage the use of such bags based on their purported negative environmental impacts.

The major Irish environmental group Friends of the Irish Environment has pointed out that ‘life cycle analyses (LCAs) show that paper bags have a greater adverse impact than a plastic bag for a number of the environmental issues’. The organization is calling on the government to impose the levy on paper shopping bags as well as plastic bags.

The groups states that ‘A paper bag weighs roughly six times more than plastic, is about four times more expensive and takes up to ten times more storage space. The plastic bag levy has led to a displacement to paper bags in which could be as high as 80% according to Irish industry sources. A higher incidence of double bagging of paper bags for strength as well as heavier paper bags is another result of the levy.’

It is encouraging to see an environmental group using LCA rather than emotion-based claims for its campaign efforts.

The full Friends of the Irish Environment press release is available at

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