More than 1000 people turned out on September 26 2012 in support of a protest by Bulgarian manufacturers of plastic bags against the introduction of a 35 stotinki eco-tax on plastic bags that is scheduled to come into effect on October 1.
The measure is aimed at discouraging people from using disposable plastic bags, a major pollutant.
But the Bulgarian plastic bag manufacturers say that the charge is the highest in the European Union and will doom their businesses to fail and will eliminate hundreds of jobs.
Producers said that the tax would result in retailers importing plastic bags from other countries.
The fee will be compulsory for all producers and importers. The plan is for the fee to increase annually to reach a lev (about 50 euro cents) for each plastic bag.
Sonya Alexandrova, a manager at a plastic bag manufacturer, called for a one-year grace period before the imposition of the 35 stotinki fee.
Plastic bag manufacturers said that consumption of the bags could be reduced by increasing their thickness from 15 to 20 microns, which would save businesses from the risk of failure, while the bags could be recycled up to 30 times instead of being disposed of in landfill.
Bulgaria’s Environment Ministry first announced a plan for a plastic bag tax in late 2010, with the first being introduced in July 2011. Major supermarkets offer customers, for a small fee, the option of thicker plastic bags that may be re-used several times.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)