In order to get to grips with increasing plastic waste, the government has proposed a new tax which could double the price of standard single-use plastic carrier bags offered at supermarket checkouts.
The bags, which usually cost between two and three kronor in the store, will get slapped with a three-kronor tax according to the proposal – which could bring the customer's cost to around five kronor ($0.52).
Lightweight transparent plastic bags, which are handed out for free in grocery stores and used to pack fruit and vegetables, for example, will get a 0.30 kronor – or 30 öre – tax.
The tax would be paid by those who import or produce the bags. But according to the proposal, the cost is expected to be passed on to consumers to the tune of 3.1 billion kronor a year, or 310 kronor per person.
However, if the target for reduced use of plastic bags is met, the cost for the individual consumer would instead fall to 175 kronor a year, according to the government proposal, outlined in Swedish here.
Multiple-use bags usually have a greater impact on the environment at the time of production than single-use bags, with cotton bags needing to be reused 130-400 times to compensate, according to the agency. But the proposal still finds that reduced use of plastic bags will be good for the environment and lead to less littering.
Swedish plastic carrier bags are fairly sturdy and are often used as bin bags in households after they've served their time, whenever they are not reused for a grocery run or for wrapping a lunch box to take to work.
But Swedes still use 770 million plastic bags measuring 15-50 micrometres in thickness per year – the standard carrier bags you get at the checkout counter in supermarkets or alcohol chain Systembolaget – according to a report by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency in 2016.
The proposal is part of Sweden's cross-bloc budget proposal, worked out by the ruling Social Democrat-Green coalition in collaboration with the Centre and Liberal parties. It has been referred to Sweden's Council on Legislation for consultation. If it goes ahead it is expected to come into force on May 1st, 2020.