First tax on plastic bags
/ first
Denmark ()

The first country to place a levy specifically on plastic bags was Denmark, coming into force in 1994 as part of a raft of green tax reforms. Under the legislation, plastic bag manufacturers have to pay an eco-tax based on the weight of bags with a volume of 5 litres (1.1 US gallons) or more. Manufacturers pass this cost on to retailers, who in turn pass it on to consumers in a bid to encourage more people to adopt reusable carrier bags.

The policy is widely hailed as a success among campaigners against single-use plastic. It's estimated that the average Dane uses about 70 multi-use bags and 4 single-use bags per year. By comparison, in the USA, each citizen uses single-use bags at a rate of almost one per day.

Germany introduced a broader scheme known as Packaging Ordinance on 12 June 1991, requiring manufacturers to take responsibility (partly via taxation) for recycling the packaging of their products after the consumer had finished using them, but this was part of a more general waste collection policy and did not specifically target plastic bags.

The first country to place a ban on plastic bags (specifically thinner, single-use polythene bags) was Bangladesh, in 2002.