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Plastic Bag Environmental Levy


The Plastic Bag Environmental Levy is a charge on plastic shopping bags. It applies at the point of sale in shops, supermarkets, service stations and all sales outlets. Retailers must pass on the full amount of the levy as a charge to customers at the checkout. The charge for the plastic shopping bag is itemised on all invoices, receipts or dockets issued to customers.

The Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2011(pdf) proposes a mechanism whereby the rate of the levy can be increased, subject to a maximum rate of 70c per bag. The Bill is going through the Oireachtas at present.

Environmental Fund

Plastic bags are a visible component of litter throughout our towns, coastlines and in the countryside. They have a negative impact on our environment and on our wildlife and their habitats. The charge was introduced to encourage the use of reusable bags and to help change attitudes to litter and pollution.

Revenue generated from the Plastic Bag Environmental Levy goes into the Environmental Fund. This fund is used to support waste management, litter and other environmental initiatives.


You will not be charged for all plastic shopping bags as there are some exemptions:

Exemptions from the levy

Smaller plastic bags that are used to store non-packaged goods such as:

  • Dairy products
  • Fruit, vegetables or nuts
  • Confectionery
  • Cooked food, whether it is hot or cold
  • Ice

are exempt from the levy.

The levy also does not apply to:

  • Smaller plastic bags that are used to store fresh meat, fish and poultry, both packaged and unpackaged.
  • 'Bags for life' costing more than 70 cent
  • Bags supplied to intending passengers in airports and ports and passengers on board commercial aircraft and ships.
  • Items sold in the secure 'duty free' zone of airports. (This is irrespective of whether or not the goods are 'duty free'. Items sold in the departure/arrivals zones of the airport are not exempt.

Complaints about breaches of the law

Retailers are required to comply with the law and charge for plastic bags where appropriate. If you wish to complain about a retailer who is not charging for plastic bags, you should contact the Environmental Awareness Officer or the Waste Enforcement Officer of your local authority.

You should make your complaint in writing, clearly identifying the name and address of the retailer, the instances where plastic bags being issued without charge, etc. Remember to include your own contact details so the local authority can verify your information. All information regarding your complaint is confidential and your personal details will not be passed to the retailer.

Following receipt of your complaint, your local authority will send an inspector to the retailer's premises. The inspector will purchase an item and request an itemised receipt. If the plastic bag levy does not appear on the receipt the local authority has two options. They may choose to issue a warning to the retailer and a reminder about the levy, or they may choose to initiate legal proceedings against the retailer. It is a matter for the local authority to decide how they will proceed. Find your local authority here.


The levy is 22 cent per bag. Retailers are obliged by law to pass on this charge to you and your receipt must reflect the charge for the bag.

Where to apply

Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government

Custom House
Dublin 1

Tel:(01) 888 2000
Locall:1890 202 021
Fax:(01) 888 2888

Page updated: 12 April 2011



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