We’re always proud to see Irish businesses playing their part in contributing to a healthier planet, and one of our favourite Dublin bakeries has just stepped up its sustainability game. From today, October 1st, Bread 41 on Pearse Street is introducing a 15c charge for paper bags.
In 2002, Ireland were pioneers in reducing plastic bag consumption when they were the first country to introduce a 15c levy on plastic bags. The measure was an immediate success, and led to a 90% reduction in the use of plastic bags, with one billion plastic bags removed from circulation. The levy went on to generate over €200 million over the next 12 years, which was used to run environmental projects. While met with some opposition at the time, the plastic bag levy managed to change the way people think when it comes to shopping, forcing shops to switch to paper alternatives and encouraging consumers to bring their own.
Paper bags replaced plastic in most establishments. While, 20 years ago, this was a move in the right direction, we’ve now all become more wise to the rising problem with single use products. While paper can be composted, it’s still a huge strain on the environment to produce bags that are usually discarded within minutes. The energy used to produce and then recycle these bags is enormous, and can easily be avoided.
Bread 41 have always been ahead of the curve when it comes to pushing for improvements in sustainable practices. Pre-Covid, they were the first to introduce a ‘no cup, no coffee’ policy in their bakery to eliminate the use of single-use paper cups, which they plan to bring back by March 31st. From now on, they’ll be charging 15c for each paper bag to highlight their environmental impact and encourage customers to reduce their consumption.
Bread 41 owner and head baker Eoin Cluskey, who spearheaded the initiative, says, “Since the plastic bag levy came into play, the number of plastic bags bought decreased by 90%. Now it’s time for all single-use paper bags to follow suit. We are face-to-face with a climate crisis and we each need to recognize our responsibility as business owners and individuals and take a stand and to stop being a part of the problem. We must be held responsible for the waste we are creating.”