Tuesday, 13 June 2006
Dáil Eireann Debate
87. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the result of checks his Department has made into the operation of the plastic bag levy; if there is significant avoidance of the charge by some retail outlets; if so, the action he intends to take; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22548/06]
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr. Roche): The 15 cent levy on plastic bags, as provided for in the Waste Management (Environmental Levy) (Plastic Bag) Regulations 2001, applies to all plastic bags supplied to customers at the point of sale to them for the conveyance of goods or products. Prior to the introduction of this levy in March 2002, an estimated 1.2 billion plastic bags were given away free by retailers. The levy has led to a dramatic reduction in use of plastic bags with a consequent positive environmental benefit. Plastic shopping bags accounted for 5% of litter arising prior to the introduction of the levy, but for just 0.22% of litter arising in 2004.
I am anxious that the plastic bag regulations are rigorously enforced. From representations I have received there would appear to be some anecdotal evidence of slippage in application of the levy. I recognise the need to ensure that the efforts and commitment of the vast majority of retailers are not undermined by the non-compliance of a few. Therefore, my Department has written to local authorities asking them to carry out inspections of retail outlets with a view to improving current practices in relation to the implementation of the Plastic Bag Levy Regulations. An enforcement network of local authority officers has been established to monitor and co-ordinate the enforcement drive.
The relevant enforcement officers have extensive powers to enter any retail premises, to conduct any searches or investigations considered necessary, and to inspect or remove any records, books and documents for the purposes of any proceedings in relation to the levy.
All complaints received in my Department concerning non-compliance are forwarded to the relevant local authority and the Revenue Commissioners. The operation of the levy is also subject to the normal Revenue Commissioners auditing arrangements.
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