Levy fails to reduce bags

2014-10-30 00:00

SOUTH Africans has spent over R1,1 billion on plastic bags in the past decade.

This was the answer Minister of Finance Nhlanhla Nene gave to a parliamentary question by DA MP Timothy Brauteseth.

Nene said the levy on plastic bags, which was introduced in 2003 and came into effect in 2004, did not have the desired outcome. His figures show consumers used 10 billion plastic bags before the levy and while the use of plastic bags did briefly decrease by 75% in 2004, the use of plastic bags then steadily increased.

Today more plastic bags are made and imported than ever before.

Nene said the aim of the levy was to induce people to re-use bags and avoid discarding plastic bags, to reduce the enormous litter problem created by these bags.

He said the previous department of environmental affairs — then under minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk — viewed the problem as so serious they even wanted to ban the use of plastic bags totally in 2003, but to prevent a loss of jobs in the plastics industry, the levy was chosen to spur people to use fewer plastic bags.

Nene said the levy has paid R216 million to date to Environmental Affairs. This money is ring-fenced for renewable projects.

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