Written Answers. - Plastic Bags.

John Gormley

Ceist:

366 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government the types of plastic bags which are exempt from the proposed plastic bag tax; his views on whether such exemptions could mean that customers could continue to get plastic bags free at the checkouts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27519/01]

John Gormley

Ceist:

367 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government when customers will pay for plastic bags; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27520/01]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 366 and 367 together.

Draft regulations in relation to the proposed introduction of a 15 cent (12p) levy on plastic shopping bags were issued for public consultation on 18 September 2001. Submissions received are being considered at present and I intend to make final regulations shortly. The draft regulations provide that the levy will take effect from 4 February 2002. It will apply to all plastic bags suitable for use by customers at the point of sale in supermarkets, service stations or other sales outlets, except plastic bags solely used to contain fresh meat, fish and poultry and plastic bags solely used to contain the products referred to, whether packaged or not, provided that such bags are not greater in dimension than 215mm by 345mm by 450mm, and plastic bags solely used to contain non-packaged fruit, nuts or vegetables, confectionery, dairy products, and cooked food, whether cold or hot, provided that such bags are not greater than the dimensions referred to above.

The exemptions above only apply where bags are used for the purposes referred to. If other products are placed in these bags, then the retailer must charge the levy to the consumer. The draft regulations also provide that plastic bags designed for reuse and which are sold to customers for a sum of not less than 70 cent (55p) each, will also be exempted from the levy.