New tax on plastic bags in Sweden

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STOCKHOLM, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) -- A new tax will be introduced for plastic carrier bags in Sweden, Swedish news TT reported on Monday.

The tax, which will come into force on May 1, 2020, will be levied at three crowns per plastic bag.

Today, supermarkets charge shoppers two to three crowns for each plastic carrier bag. Together with VAT, this new tax could raise the average consumer price of plastic bags available at checkouts to six or seven crowns, said the Swedish Trade Federation.

The tax will be charged to the stores when the plastic bags are purchased, but the Swedish Trade Federation says the cost is likely to be passed on to consumers.

"This is totally crazy," Mats Hedenstrom, economic policy director at the Swedish Trade Federation, told TT.

"They are not honest with citizens and consumers about why they are doing this. It would be better if they said they are chasing revenue," Hedenstrom said.

Hedenstrom told TT he believes that plastic carrier bags are not a significant environmental problem in Sweden, saying most of them are incinerated.

"The basis for this EU directive when it came was the littering problem that existed around the Mediterranean countries. That is not the situation in Sweden. If you look around lakes and nature here, it is not primarily plastic carrier bags you find there," Hedenstrom told TT.

Sweden's Deputy Minister of Finance Per Bolund disagrees.

"That is not entirely true, it is enough to look out at the streets and squares or in forest areas to be able to see that there are plastic bags in those places as well. Although we are better than some other countries, it is not that we do not have problems with littering," Bolund told TT.

According to Bolund, accusations that this policy is intended to raise revenue are questionable since the policy explicitly aims to reduce sales of the single-use plastic carrier bags affected by the tax. Revenue gained from the new tax is expected to drop over time as consumers change their behaviour and buy fewer bags.

The draft tax is part of Sweden's cross-bloc budget proposal, drawn up by the country's ruling Social Democrat-Green government with support from the Centre and Liberal parties. (one Swedish crown currently equals to 0.10 U.S. dollars) Enditem

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