Intro Text 

The government levy on disposable plastic shopping bags was introduced in Ireland on 4th March 2002. Subject to certain exceptions detailed below, it applies at the point of sale of goods to the general public by every retailer. The levy was originally set at 15 cent for each plastic bag issued to a customer, and was increased to 22 cent per plastic bag on the 1st July 2007.



The main objective of the levy is to greatly reduce the numbers of plastic bags in circulation in Ireland. Plastic bags are an obvious and very visible source of litter; they are also a wasteful use of natural resources. Since the introduction of the levy, it is estimated that the use of disposable plastic shopping bags has been reduced by approximately 90% in Ireland. Previously, the per capita usage of plastic bags was estimated at 328 - the levy led to a reduction in per capita usage to 21 bags per annum.

Since then however, there has been an increase in the usage of plastic bags among the public in Ireland. Data from levies remitted and estimates provided by the Central Statistics Office indicate that per capita plastic bag usage rose to 30 bags during 2006. Therefore, the levy was increased to 22 cent per bag, which is the maximum charge permitted under current legislation. The purpose of the increase is to reduce per capita usage to the level achieved in 2002 or lower.


How Is The Levy Used?

All Plastic Bag Levy receipts together with Landfill Levy receipts are paid into a special "Environment Fund". To date, this Fund has been used to support:

  • The provision of civic recycling facilities and bring centres;
  • Enforcement of the Waste Management Acts; 
  • All Ireland waste initiatives, such as the all-island scheme for the management of waste fridges and freezers; 
  • Waste awareness campaigns; 
  • The successful "Green Schools" initiative.


Permitted Exemptions From The Plastic Bag Levy

All Retailers are legally required to charge customers the 22 cent government levy for plastic bags, subject to the following exemptions:

  • Small plastic bags used to contain loose fruit, vegetables and other similar goods; 
  • Small plastic bags used to contain fresh meat, fish and poultry; 
  • Bags issued as rolls of refuse collection sacks, sandwich bags or freezer bags; 
  • Re-usable bags sold to customers for more than 70 cent each; 
  • Bags supplied to intending passengers at ports and airports, and bags supplied on board ships and aircraft.

Should you wish to make a complaint regarding incidents of retailers not charging the Plastic Bag Levy when required to do so, please contact the Enforcement Section via e-mail at wasteenforcement@dlrcoco.ie or by phoning the direct number (01) 204 795.

Please include the following details with your complaint:

The retail outlet's name and address; 

  • The date and approximate time of the alleged offence; 
  • Any other particulars you feel may assist us in investigating the case; 
  • Your contact details for verification purposes.