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Sweden's right-wing government says it will turn its back on plastic bag tax

A woman carries plastic bags at the Drottninggatan shopping street in central Stockholm
A woman carries plastic bags at the Drottninggatan shopping street in central Stockholm Copyright Fredrik SANDBERG / TT News Agency / AFP
Copyright Fredrik SANDBERG / TT News Agency / AFP
By AFP
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The country's climate and environment minister says he's convinced Swedes "use plastic bags wisely in their daily lives" amid warnings over a potential increase in plastic waste in nature.

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The Swedish government announced on Wednesday that it wants to abolish the tax on plastic bags introduced in 2020 from November 2024.

"We are convinced that Swedes use plastic bags wisely in their daily lives and that there is no reason why they should be more expensive," Minister for Climate and the Environment Romina Pourmokhtari told Swedish public broadcaster SVT.

The tax of three kronor (25 euro cents) per shopping bag was introduced in 2020 to meet the European Union's consumption target for plastic bags.

By 2022, Swedes were buying 17 plastic bags per person per year, compared with 74 in 2019, the year before the tax was introduced, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The European Union has set a consumption target of no more than 40 bags per person by 2025.

This decision comes a week after the government announced its intention to reduce taxes on petrol and diesel, a move criticised by opposition parties.

The right-wing government in power since 2022, supported by the far-right Sweden Democrats party, had indicated earlier this year that it was considering drastically reducing the tax on plastic bags.

"The tax is considered to have certain negative effects, such as administrative costs, and may also lead to an increase in the consumption of alternatives," the Swedish executive said in a statement.

These alternatives include paper bags or the purchase of garbage can liners.

The EPA and the Swedish Agency for Water and Marine Environment Management have warned against such a measure, believing that it would lead to an increase in plastic waste in nature.

This measure "carries the risk that the (EU) target will not be met", warned the EPA in its impact study last year.

The government said in a press release that it will continue to "closely monitor" the evolution of plastic bag consumption.

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