The Maldives collected MVR 16 million in plastic bag fees over the past year, according to the Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA).

The fee, implemented on 18 April 2023 under the Waste Management Act, not only brings in revenue but also plays a crucial role in waste management. It mandates all commercial entities to charge MVR 2 for each plastic bag dispensed to consumers, effectively curbing single-use plastic production and importation in the Maldives.

Data released by MIRA reveals that it collected MVR 12.6 million in plastic bag fees from the introduction of the fee until the end of 2023. An additional MVR 4 million was collected during the first quarter of 2024, bringing the total income collected as plastic bag fees since its introduction to MVR 16 million.

Under the current waste management law, consumers procuring packs of plastic bags in quantities exceeding 50 at the wholesale rate are obligated to remit a fee of MVR 2 per bag. The government, however, introduced a legislative amendment to the parliament to exempt plastic bag fees when purchases involve packs of 50 or more plastic bags at the wholesale rate.

The bill, submitted to parliament in October 2023, proposes a tax exemption on bags procured for specific purposes and suggests introducing a uniform tax to alleviate administrative burdens on retail shops and cafés. It further recommends reducing the bag fee to MVR 0.50 with an annual review.

However, as the term of the 19th parliament ended on 15 May, the bill remained in committee.

The fee for plastic bags, introduced by the Ibrahim Mohamed Solih administration, underscores the nation’s commitment to prohibiting single-use plastics. The escalating plastic pollution in the Maldives significantly threatens the tourism and fishing industries. According to the World Bank, the Maldives generates 365,000 metric tonnes of solid waste annually, mainly from resort islands.