12 January 2005

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Plastic bags still subject to higher eco-contribution rate

By Julian Manduca

The new rates for the eco-contribution on plastic bags have not yet become legally binding and according to law the eco-contribution on plastic bags should be charged and collected at Lm10.67 per kilo.
Given that importers have not released containers of plastic bags since 1 January the eco-contribution should have had limited applicability to date and most of those charging higher prices for plastic bags are probably taking advantage of an unclear situation.
The government has yet to pass the Legal Notice that will change the eco-contribution to six cents per bag as minister George Pullicino announced last Friday, even if shops have taken to charging anything between three and seven cents per bag.
However until the Legal Notice announcing the changes comes into force anyone supplying the bags should be charging eco-tax at the rate announced 31 December, which means that lightweight plastic bags face a tax which pushes the price up to approximately 6 cents and the stronger supermarket bags should be priced between 12 and 13 cents.
Garbage bags remain subject to the eco-contribution first announced, which will mean a selling price as follows: 17 for the small size, 40 cents for the medium sized ones and 76 cents for the large ones provided these are not old stock brought forward from 2004. The legal notice that will change the eco-contribution is expected to be introduced on Friday.
The current situation creates a bit of an anomaly since while the law states the ‘old’ rates should be used and those not compliant could be in trouble, the government is clearly enthusiastic to see suppliers charge the new rates on newly supplied plastic bags.
This newspaper is informed, however, that importers are not releasing their containers until the new eco-contribution rates are passed into law.
In the meantime each shop owner seems to have taken their own decisions with some charging as much as seven cents for a plastic bag, but with most of the large supermarkets charging three cents. If the bags are old stocks carried forward from last year the eco-contribution should not be included in the price, but if the bags are new the eco-contribution should be Lm10.67 per kilo.
Most supermarkets continue to have very small selections of plastic bags for garbage with no degradable or biodegradable alternatives and some supermarkets confirmed to this newspaper they had none in stock.

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Editor: Saviour Balzan
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