Ban or Tax Plastic shopping bag
日本 米国カリフォルニア州 スコットランド アイルランド バングラデシュ
台湾 南オーストラリア 南アフリカ インドMumbai （旧ボンベイ） イタリー
2005年07月11日 Chemnet Tokyo
2005年12月09日 Chemnet Tokyo
南アフリカでは、プラスチックの袋が道路や生垣など、いたるところに散らばっているため、"national flower" (国花)と呼ばれていたが、2003年からプラスチック袋を使用する小売業者には、10万ランド(約160万円)の罰金か10年の刑が課せられることになった。
(注：中国では "white pollution" と呼ばれている)
朝日新聞 2005/6/10 「レジ袋有料」義務化せず…経産省と環境省方針
レジ袋、０７年にも有料化 法整備で促進 環境省方針
(2002/3/18 可決。税の施行については、景気の動向やレジ袋の削減状況等に配慮し、議会との協議をし、総務省への同意協議が必要となりますので、今のところ具体的な日程は未定です。 http://www2.city.suginami.tokyo.jp/library/file/skmzei_jorei_nerai1612.pdf )
Seattle Post-Intelligencer July 21, 2004
Plastic Left Holding the
Bag as Environmental Plague
Nations around world look at a ban
Imagine a world without
plastic shopping bags. It could be the future.
There is a growing international movement to ban or discourage the use of plastic bags because of their environmental effects. Countries from Ireland to Australia are cracking down on the bags and action is beginning to stir in the United States.
The ubiquitous plastic shopping bag, so handy for everything from toting groceries to disposing of doggie doo, may be a victim of its own success. Although plastic bags didn't come into widespread use until the early 1980s, environmental groups estimate that 500 billion to 1 trillion of the bags are now used worldwide every year.
Critics of the bags say they use up natural resources, consume energy to manufacture, create litter, choke marine life and add to landfill waste.
"Every time we use a new plastic bag they go and get more petroleum from the Middle East and bring it over in tankers," said Stephanie Barger, executive director of Earth Resource Foundation in Costa Mesa, Calif. "We are extracting and destroying the Earth to use a plastic bag for 10 minutes."
The foundation is calling for a 25 cent tax on plastic bags in California.
A bill that would have imposed a 3 cent tax on plastic shopping bags and cups was sidelined in the California Legislature last year after heavy opposition from the retail and plastics industries.
The plastics industry took a "proactive stance" by working with retailers to encourage greater recycling, rather than "putting on taxes to address the problem," said Donna Dempsey, executive director of the Film and Bag Federation, a trade association for the plastic bag industry.
The tax proposals are loosely modeled on Ireland's "PlasTax," a levy of about 20 cents that retail customers have had to pay for each plastic bag since March 2002. The use of plastic bags in Ireland dropped more than 90 percent following imposition of the tax, and the government has raised millions of dollars for recycling programs.
Similar legislation was introduced in Scotland last month and is being discussed for the rest of the United Kingdom.
Consumers seem agreeable to giving up the bags, said Claire Wilton, senior waste campaigner at Greenpeace-UK.
"There certainly hasn't been an angry uprising of shoppers (in Ireland) saying we want our bags for free," Wilton said. "I think a lot of people recognize they are wasteful. That's why they try to save them to use again, although they often forget to bring them with them when they shop."
In Australia, about 90 percent of retailers have signed up with the government's voluntary program to reduce plastic bag use. A law that went into effect last year in Taiwan requires restaurants, supermarkets and convenience stores to charge customers for plastic bags and utensils. It has resulted in a 69 percent drop in use of plastic products, according to news reports.
One of the key concerns is litter. In China, plastic bags blowing around the streets are called "white pollution." In South Africa, the bags are so prominent in the countryside that they have won the derisive title of "national flower."
The plastics industry says the solution to bag litter is to change people, not the product.
"Every piece of litter has a human face behind it. If they are a harm to the environment in terms of visual blight, then people need to stop littering," said Rob Krebs, a spokesman for the American Plastics Council.
One of the most dramatic impacts is on marine life. About 100,000 whales, seals, turtles and other marine animals are killed by plastic bags each year worldwide, according to Planet Ark, an international environmental group.
Last September, more than 354,000 bags -- most of them plastic -- were collected during an international cleanup of costal areas in the United States and 100 other countries, according to the Ocean Conservancy.
The bags were the fifth most common item of debris found on beaches.
Some countries are cracking down on the use of plastic bags. Here's a look at the issue:
# About 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year, according to Vincent Cobb, founder of reuseablebags.com.
# Countries that have banned or taken action to discourage the use of plastic bags include Australia, Bangladesh, Ireland, Italy, South Africa and Taiwan. Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India, also has banned the bags.
# Australians were using nearly 7 billion bags a year, and nearly 1.2 billion bags a year were being passed out free in Ireland before government restrictions, according to government estimates.
# Plastic industry trade associations were unable to provide estimates of plastic bag use in the United States. However, based on studies of plastic bag use in other nations, the environmental group Californians Against Waste estimates Americans use 84 billion plastic bags annually.
# The first plastic sandwich bags were introduced in 1957. Department stores started using plastic bags in the late 1970s and supermarket chains introduced the bags in the early 1980s.
# Overall, the U.S. plastics and related industries employed about 2.2 million U.S. workers and contributed nearly $400 million to the economy in 2002, according to The Society of the Plastics Industry.
British Plastics &
Rubber on-line 2005/6/27
Scottish bag tax proposal is echoed around the world
The plan to impose a tax on plastic carrier bags proposed a year ago by Scottish MP Mike Pringle could be debated by the Parliament in the Autumn, and if it is passed, the legislation could be in force as early as 2007.The Bill proposes placing a 10 p charge on all plastic carrier bags given out in Scotland and follows similar legislation in the Republic of Ireland and other countries.
The objectives of the bill are to protect the environment by reducing the number of bags and by investing the money raised in environmental improvements; to encourage reuse of finite resources and help local councils meet their waste plan targets; and to raise awareness of environmental issues such as recycling and litter.
The Carrier Bag Consortium, set up by bag producers in 2002 following the introduction of the Irish tax, rebutted the proposal on the grounds that it would bring no environmental gain, but would risk job losses and business closures. Retailers expressed concern that it would put Scottish retailers at a disadvantage compared with those in England, where there are no plans to introduce such a levy.
While local focus is on
taxing bags in Scotland, on the other side of the world plastic
bags are being banned. South Australia's State Government is to
introduce legislation to ban single-use bags from January 1,
2008. Around 500 million thin single-use bags are used by
retailers every year in South Australia, and 'vast numbers end up
as rubbish, clogging waterways and blighting the landscape'.
Environment Minister John Hill is urging federal and state
environment ministers to support a national ban, and is
threatening to introduce a statewide ban anyway if a national ban
is not supported.
There is already a voluntary agreement among state environment ministers to phase out these bags by the end of 2008, and retailers are working towards a voluntary code. The Australian Retailers Association's voluntary code led major supermarkets to reduce the use of bags by 26 per cent last year and a target for a 50 per cent drop has been set for the end of this year. But the government doesn't expect a voluntary code to achieve any more than that.
Up to 6・9 billion plastic bags were used in Australia last year, of which about 6・01 billion were single-use.
And in Japan the Environment Ministry is working on a plan to bring in charges for plastic bags to reduce consumption. There is a particular aim here. The country that hosted the Kyoto conference with its controversial agreement to cut greenhouse gases is struggling to meet its own commitments, and reducing the level of plastic bags in household waste could contribute to its goal.
BBC News 2002/8/20
Irish bag tax hailed success
A tax on plastic shopping
bags in the Republic of Ireland has cut their use by more than
90% and raised millions of euros in revenue, the government says.
The tax of 15 cents per bag was introduced five months ago in an attempt to curb litter, and the improvement had been immediate and "plain to see", said Environment Minister Martin Cullen.
He said that the 3.5
million euros in extra revenue raised so far would be spent on
The "plastax" is being closely watched by other countries, particularly neighbouring Britain.
Bangladesh has banned polythene bags altogether while Taiwan and Singapore are taking steps to discourage their use.
"The levy has been an outstanding success in achieving what it set out to do," said Mr Cullen.
"Over one billion plastic bags will be removed from circulation while raising funding for future environmentally friendly initiatives."
He added: "It is clear that the levy has not only changed consumer behaviour in relation to disposable plastic bags, it has also raised national consciousness about the role each one of us can, and must play if we are to tackle collectively the problems of litter and waste management."
The environment ministry estimated that about 1.2 billion free plastic bags were being handed out every year in the republic, leaving windblown bags littering Irish streets and the countryside.
In the three months after the tax was introduced, shops handed out just over 23 million plastic bags - about 277 million fewer than normal, the government said.
Shoppers are being encouraged to use tougher, reusable bags.
The ministry said that if the current trend continued, the tax would bring in 10 million euros in a full year.
Other countries around the world are also taking action to curb plastic bag litter.
In March, Bangladesh banned polythene bags after it was found that they were blocking drainage systems and had been a major culprit during the 1988 and 1998 floods that submerged two-thirds of the country.
Taiwan and Singapore are also moving to ban free plastic bags and in South Africa they have been dubbed the "national flower" because so many can be seen flapping from fences and caught in bushes.
BBC News 2002/1/1
Bangladesh bans polythene
Dhaka has severe environmental problems
The Bangladesh Government
has begun enforcing a complete ban on the sale and use
of polythene bags in the capital, Dhaka.
Environment Minister Shahajahan Siraj says the decision has been taken to save the city from an imminent environmental disaster.
Environmental groups say the millions of polythene bags disposed of everyday are clogging Dhaka's drainage system, posing a serious environmental hazard.
Polythene shopping bags were introduced into Bangladesh nearly two decades ago, quickly replacing jute bags traditionally in use in every household of Bangladesh.
A recent study says that in Dhaka an average household uses about four polythene bags a day.
Everyday, nearly 10 million polythene bags are disposed of by Dhaka residents.
Environmental groups say that without tougher environmental legislation it will be very difficult for the government to attain any success in its fight against polythene
These discarded polythene bags have posed a new environmental threat for an overcrowded city which is already suffering from high levels of air pollution and other kinds of environmental hazards.
The government's decision to ban polythene was generally welcomed by the public, but environmental groups are doubtful how far the government will go to implement the decision.
The Environment Ministry has launched a massive publicity campaign to persuade the public not to use polythene bags.
Environment Minister Shahajahan Siraj says the campaign has been successful in raising the awareness of the public about the hazards of the bags.
Mr Siraj says they are promoting jute bags as an alternative to polythene and people have responded positively.
Despite the campaign, a large number of Dhaka residents were seen on Tuesday using polythene bags which they say are user friendly and cheaper.
Environmental groups say that, without tougher environmental legislation, it will be very difficult for the government to attain any success in its fight against polythene.
Mr Siraj said the government would propose a bill in the next session of the parliament to ban the production of polythene bags.
He warned the measure could take some time as they had to think of alternative employment for nearly 18,000 workers now employed in the industry.
Christian Science Monitor
June 15, 2004 edition
Wrap that in plastic? Not in Taiwan, unless you pay
The island has
drastically reduced plastic waste. But activists say a cut in
fines for violations may harm progress.
It's not often that an Asian country beats out the West with progressive environmental policy. Yet that's just what Taiwan has done, with regulations that have dramatically reduced use of what many consider a scourge - the plastic bag.
Single-use plastics, so ubiquitous in modern life and so prevalent across Asia, have become something of a novelty in this island nation since the country's Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) implemented tough restrictions - namely, large fines against businesses that give away plastic bags, utensils, and Styrofoam and plastic food containers.
The final phase of the three-stage restrictions took effect in January 2003. Since then, EPA officials said this month, use of plastic shopping bags has been cut by 69 percent nationwide. Factoring in heavier use of paper bags, the agency says overall waste from shopping bags has dropped by 65 percent. Plastic tableware has nearly disappeared from the island, with usage dropping by 90 percent since the restrictions took effect. Overall, estimates show that Taiwan has reduced its solid-waste output by roughly 25 percent since the policies came into effect.
But environmentalists fear the Taiwan government may be trashing a good program with the recent move to drastically reduce the fines. On May 18, the Legislative Yuan approved a proposal to cut them from the original range of $1,800 to $9,000 to between $35 and $180 per offense.
"It's pretty distressing," says Taipei environmental attorney Robin Winkler.
EPA officials defended the move, saying the heavy fines were "deemed as unreasonable judgment by the public for small-scale restaurants." The agency denies it has any intention of eliminating the regulations altogether. Chen says the high fines discouraged actual enforcement of the law because many police officers would issue simple warnings rather than dole out big fines.
Taiwan's ban on distribution of free plastic containers came after years of haggling among environmentalists, government officials, and industry on how to handle the nation's trash. The country is roughly the size of Maryland and Delaware combined, with 22.5 million inhabitants and a thriving postmanufacturing consumer economy. In other words, lots of garbage in a small space.
Garbage pickers, the very grassroots of recycling and still prevalent in developing countries, disappeared from Taiwan as living standards rose through the 1980s. Huge landfills took over, threatening to swamp the island with trash. Then the country moved to garbage incinerators up until about five years ago, when the toxic byproducts became overwhelming. The EPA then opted to move toward reducing waste at the source, one of which was disposable plastic.
These days in Taipei, shoppers leave the supermarket with armloads of groceries - goods packed in cardboard boxes, and in their own used plastic or cloth shopping bags. New plastic bags cost one New Taiwan dollar (3 cents) a piece.
Consumers say penny pinching and environmental awareness both have pushed them away from buying bags and demanding disposable food containers. Taiwan has a heightened sense of environmental awareness, given its small size. Take-away iced coffee comes in paper cups, not plastic. Fast-food containers are paper only - no plastic cartons or utensils without a fee.
The EPA says its own public-opinion polls show that 80 percent of consumers still support the plastics restrictions, even though a full one-third of residents admit they find the restrictions inconvenient.
Some small shops flout the law and still do provide free bags, and about 20 percent of shoppers still buy one-time use bags. But waste has been scaled far back from before the ban, when it was estimated that Taiwan used 2.5 plastics bags per day per person, adding up to 20 billion bags each year.
Bangladesh, Singapore, Ireland, and Australia have also implemented bans and tariffs on plastic bags, while others are considering such measures. South Korea has an antiplastics policy nearly as aggressive as Taiwan's. And even across the Taiwan Straits in China, where the plastic bag is used to transport everything from potted plants to new puppies, officials in Shanghai have pledged to implement bag restrictions.
Taiwan's plastics industry predicted major economic losses and fought the policy before it went into place. As yet the industry has reported some economic losses, but exports appear to have made up the balance. The Taiwan Plastics Industry Association doesn't have any new figures on job loss related to the regulations.
Minister's push for plastic-bag ban
SOUTH Australia will push
for a national ban on the use of plastic shopping bags at a
meeting of environment ministers in Perth today. State
Environment Minister John Hill said he wanted other states and
the Federal Government to agree to a ban from January, 2009.
Single use plastic bags will be banned in SA from the end of 2008.
"Agreement on this ban will be a major win for South Australia, but more importantly a win for the environment," Mr Hill said.
"It will show that Australia is committed to getting rid of plastic bags and is leading the way on the international stage.
"At the moment there are more than six billion single-use plastic bags used in Australia every year with most ending up in landfill or in waterways, polluting our seas and killing wildlife.
"Supporting a ban on bags is a major step that we can take as consumers that will have a really positive impact on our environment."
Mr Hill said South Australia would push ahead with its planned ban on plastic bags regardless of the position of other states.
BBC News May 9, 2003
South Africa bans plastic
South Africa is making the thin and flimsy plastic bag illegal.
Known as the country's "national
they litter streets - retailers handing out the bags now
face a fine of 100,000 rand ($13,800) or a 10-year jail sentence.
The legislation means shoppers will either have to take bags with them when they go shopping, or buy new, thick, stronger plastic bags that are easier and more profitable to recycle.
According to the South African Government the country uses eight billion bags a year.
"Each plastic bag has a life of its own but we do not want it to end up on the street. We want everyone, from the producer to the retailer to the consumer, to start recycling," said Phindile Makwakwa, spokeswoman for the environment ministry.
"We want to get rid of plastic bag waste completely. We are hoping to walk around in our streets in a year's time and see far less waste."
The move from bags with an average of 17 microns in thickness to the new minimum of 30 microns started about two years ago.
The government wanted to ban all plastic bags thinner than 80 microns, but the proposal caused an outcry among trade unions and business.
A micron, or micrometer, is one-thousandth of a millimetre (one 25th of a thousandth of an inch). A human hair measures about 50 microns across.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said it would lead to the closure of factories and some 3,800 job losses, while plastics manufacturers said it was impossible to produce 80-micron bags with their existing equipment.
However, a compromise was reached: the new law would permit plastic bags with a minimum thickness of 30 microns, jobs in the plastic manufacturing and retail industries would be retained and new jobs would be created in the recycling industries.
Despite the sectors signing an agreement in September last year, newspapers reported this week that manufacturers were working around the clock, but were unlikely to meet the Friday deadline and that many shops would continue using the thinner bags.
SA uses 8bn bags annually
Law aims to reduce bag use by 50%
Bags now must be thick as a rubbish bag
"We have really
given them enough time. Unfortunately change for some people is
never easy and they will keep on trying to get an
extension," Ms Makwakwa told AFP news agency.
"But we've had an assurance from business that they will be ready... The law is the law and we are optimistic that the people are ready."
From Friday, the cost of the thick plastic bags will be carried by the customer.
Up to now the shopping bags have been handed out free-of-charge to shoppers.
Some South Africans oppose the new law.
"You mustn't cut off the plastic. That means you are killing us. To buy food and buy plastic it's more expensive," one Johannesburg shopper told the BBC.
Poor South Africans use the bags to make hats, handbags, purses and scrubbing brushes which they then sell.
If they have to buy the bags - then the prices of their products will be forced upwards.
"I am very upset I've got four children and they need food and clothes," said one South African woman who makes handbags from bags.
But others feel the clamp down on plastic will benefit the environment.
"I grew up in the war. There was no such thing as a plastic bag. We all carried bags. It's fine as far as I'm concerned," said one shopper.
The Plastic Menace
Heavy rains lashed Mumbai city a few months ago, the worst rains in decades. The downpour literally brought the city to a standstill. And all because of discarded plastic bags. Plastic bags or polythene bags are essentially made of petro-chemicals.
These bags are very thin and in a strong wind can fly away from garbage bins and land on drains and rain-water channels. The bags then clog the drains as they do not let water to flow through.
The choked gutters and drains in Mumbai caused serious water logging and flooding. Fortunately the rain and the flooding did have a positive aspect - it made the Mayor of Mumbai sit up and take notice of the plastic bag menace in the city.
An immediate ban on thin plastic bags was declared. The ban came into effect on August 15, India's Independence Day. The Mumbai Municipal Corporation workers were called in to help enforce the ban. They were told to seize bags that do not conform to the standards (all bags thinner than 20 microns or 2 x 10-5 metre thickness).
The squads were given power to fine defaulters a sum of up to Rs 2,000 ($1 equals Rs 46). Within the first two days itself they seized 8,000 kg of plastic bags and recovered Rs 1.5 million in fines.
Plastic bags are non-biodegradable, that is, they take years to disintegrate and decompose. Many animals, like cows and pigs, die as they unknowingly swallow these bags while eating. Coloured plastic bags are even more dangerous. Chemical dyes like cadmium and lead are used to colour these bags and the chemicals affect the kidneys or our bones.
But why ban only thin polythene bags. Why not all plastic bags? The fact is most shopkeepers use thin plastic bags. Thick plastic bags are very expensive and cost four times more than the thin variety. Thin bags are of very poor quality and can rarely be reused. As a result, these flimsy bags land up in drains and gutters.
Of course thicker plastic bags are unsafe too, but at least they can be recycled. Many shopkeepers say they cannot afford thick plastic bags. Paper packets, which are the only alternative, are just not strong enough.
Some Indian companies have now come forward with a proposal to make paper bags that are laminated with a thin sheet of plastic that is environmental friendly. They claim that this bio-plastic, made of natural products, decomposes within a month.
But scientists say that these bio-plastics are not completely degradable. They are usually a combination of 50% natural material (that decomposes easily) and 50% non-degradable chemicals. So only half the sheet actually disintegrates within a month.
The fight against plastic bags continues and the only way we can do our bit is by refusing to accept plastic bags. So try and take a jute (or cloth) bag the next time you go to the market.
In 1989, Italy introduced
a tax on plastic bags. Abandoned plastic bags were an eyesore on
Italian beaches and on the sea, and posed a danger to dolphins
who could swallow a plastic bag and die.
The new tax sought to have the price of bags better reflect the cost that they imposed onto society and on the environment.
By levying a tax of 100 lira (about 6 cents) per plastic bag on importers or producers, the Italian government created a new signal to the market economy ? the cost of plastic bags was now greater compared to alternatives. The tax was about five times as great as the manufacturing cost per bag. From 1989 to 1992, the government took in over 250 billion lira (around $150 million) through this tax.
Implemention Date 1989 - 1992
British Plastics & Rubber 2005/12/6
Scottish bag tax put on hold
The proposed Scottish
plastic bag tax, which reports this past weekend had said would
be rejected today by the Scottish Parliament has not been killed,
but put on hold for another nine months pending clarification.
The Parliament's Environment and Rural Development Committee believes that the bill is not ready to proceed until Mike Pringle MSP (the member in charge of the bill) and Ross Finnie MSP, the Minister for Environment and Rural Development, provide further information. Committee Convener Sarah Boyack said: 'The proposal seems very simple, but we found that the possible impacts of the levy are actually very complex on a whole range of issues. Whether the bill would result in a positive net environmental impact is hotly disputed. The way the levy is to be administered also raises concerns about the costs and complexity. These issues make it difficult to judge whether this proposed levy scheme will be able to achieve its aims.'
The committee noted a number of areas where further work is required, including a need to consider the potential job losses and economic impact in both the plastic bag industry and some retail sectors as part of the Executive's green jobs strategy; improvements to the administration of the levy to make it more centralised and cost-effective; and clarification of whether VAT would be imposed on the levy, which creates 'huge potential confusion'.
The committee has requested reports from Mike Pringle and the Minister by August 31, 2006 and it will then make its final recommendation. That would give time to allow the bill to complete its process before the Parliament is dissolved for the 2007 Scottish elections.