Shoppers taking free bags told to pack it in
Published 11/08/2011 | 05:00
DUNNES Stores is clamping down on customers trying to get their plastic bags for free, by imposing a new 22c charge on fruit and vegetable bags if they are used for other groceries.
Customers at the supermarket chain's Rathmines store have been taken aback this week to find signs alerting them to the new charge for the bags which have been free of charge up until now.
Dunnes states in a sign posted at checkouts that the new charge is only applied if the bag is being taken without the purchase of produce.
"Attention customers. There is now a charge of 22c on fruit and vegetable bags without produce having been bought. Sorry for any inconvenience," it states.
It is understood that some customers have been taking the bags and using them to carry general groceries, to avoid paying the levy for bags purchased at the checkout.
But one shopper at the store who alerted the Irish Independent yesterday said customers had been furious about the charge.
"People were confused and annoyed and asking why was this charge being introduced," said Mary Leane.
The company did not respond to a query last night as to why this charge is now being levied on customers and if it is being introduced at other Dunnes outlets across the country.
To the annoyance of many shoppers, Dunnes has been charging a minimum of 70c to purchase a large plastic shopping bag.
It does not provide the standard plastic bags available at most supermarkets for 22c -- the charge levied by the Government as a tax to curb plastic bag use.
Dunnes has been locked in a legal battle with the Government disputing the scale of a €36m tax assessment against them arising out of the plastic bag levy.
It has applied for a judicial review of the assessment and the Waste Management Regulations 2001 under which it is levied, but the case initiated early last year has yet to be heard.
Other Dunnes outlets in Dublin city centre did not appear to be charging for small plastic bags yesterday.
The Department of the Environment said that small plastic bags solely used to contain loose fruit, nuts or vegetables are exempt from the 22 cent plastic bag levy.
Also exempt are those used for fresh fish, meat and poultry or for dairy products, confectionery or cooked food.
That would mean that if the bags were being used for other items that are not covered by the exemption they would be subject to the levy, a spokesperson for the department said.