How effective have plastic bag fees been?


UK Prime Minister Theresa May said she is considering doubling England’s plastic bag fee to 10 pence (US 13¢) for all retailers. Since the current 5 pence charge was introduced in October 2015 the number of disposable shopping bags given out by England’s seven largest supermarket chains has decreased by 86 percent. But lightweight plastic bags are being phased out across the world, predominantly due to environmental concerns.

What effect have plastic bag fees had in other countries?

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Hong Kong

  • A HK 50¢ (6¢) plastic bag levy was implemented on April 1 2015 across Hong Kong. The use of plastic bags dropped by 90 percent six months after the introduction of the levy, according to South China Morning Post.
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Indonesia

  • The country decided to make retailers charge customers buying plastic bags in October 2015 (Southeast Asia Globe). It was trialed across 23 Indonesian cities in February 2016. These retailers decided to implement a 200 rupiah (1.5¢) charge and it lead to a 40 percent reduction in plastic bags, as reported by Southeast Asia Globe. But participating retailers reportedly refused to continue beyond the trial period (antaranews). A nationwide plastic bag charge on the plastic producers, instead of customers, was expected to come into force in July 2018, but is yet to occur (Mongabay).
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Does your country charge for plastic bags?

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Israel

  • Since January 2017, large retailers are required to charge consumers for plastic bags with handles NIS 0.10 (3¢) for each bag. There was an 80 percent drop in 2017 in the consumption of disposable plastic shopping bags, according to the Environmental Protection Ministry, as reported by Haaretz.

South Africa

  • Charging for plastic bagss in South Africa started in May 2003, with a fixed price of 46 rand cents (3¢) for 24lb bags across all retailrs. Following the introduction the use of plastic bags fell by 90 percent. However, in the long term, the consumption of plastic bags per 1000 rand of shopping reduced by approximately 44 percent.
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United States

  • Over 200 counties and municipalities have either imposed a fee on plastic bags or banned them according to Aberdeen Evening Express. Where and what effect has this had?
  • According to a CBS affiliate in Sacramento, California, there has been a 70 percent drop in overall plastic bag litter on the state’s beaches during the annual coastal cleanup day. Since the ban, there has been an 8 percent decrease in plastic grocery bag litter on California beaches.

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