Portugal’s Minister for Plastic Bags is delighted at the public response to his Green Tax of 10 cents a bag, saying today that he is "very positive" about the first month’s results.
The Environment Minister, Jorge Moreira da Silva, said that shoppers had changed their behaviour and have come up with other ways of transporting shopping other than in the plastic bags that used to given away by many supermarkets.
"Citizens have shown in just a few weeks that they were sensitive to price signals," said da Silva who added that "the measures have been very positive, just visit a supermarket to see what the Government has always said would happen is happening, a huge reduction in plastic bag use.”
"We wanted to go from 466 to 50 plastic bags per person per year in one year. This is a more ambitious target than any other European country and in practice this is what is happening," said the happy minister.
Moreira da Silva wanted to explain to people that the government decided to tax the light plastic bags as they are the problem ones, ending up in the sea and taking years to degrade.
The Ministry of the Environment hopes that overall its Green Taxation efforts will raise €167 million this year with a €40 million contribution from the plastic bag tax.
The government has admitted that €150 million of the money raised will in fact be used to reduce income tax, with only the remaining €17 million going towards nature conservation measures.
One thing is for sure, shoppers have been re-using plastic bags to avoid the new charges.
The €40 million target, 50 bags per head of population, may be hard to achieve with shoppers in no mood to waste money as is being witnessed, but with no figures in yet it is too early to make an infomed assessment.