Over MVR 14 million has been collected in plastic bag fees since the introduction of the fee on 18 April 2023 under the Waste Management Act, according to the Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA). This legislation requires all commercial entities to levy a charge of MVR 2 for each plastic bag dispensed to consumers.

The law, which bans single-use plastic production and importation in the Maldives, is a significant step towards improving waste management practices. The introduction of the plastic bag fee marks the country’s shift towards a more eco-friendly mindset.

This initiative, championed by the Ibrahim Mohamed Solih administration, is underscored by the nation’s commitment to prohibiting single-use plastics. The introduction of the Waste Management Act at the outset of 2022 further amplifies this commitment.

From 18 April to the end of 2023, the state accrued MVR 12.6 million in plastic bag fees, with an additional MVR 1.4 million collected as of 31 January, according to the latest statistics released by MIRA.

However, the elevated cost of plastic bags has elicited concerns among citizens regarding the potential financial strain on households. Nearly a year after the implementation of the higher price, the parliament is contemplating a reduction in the charge to a more manageable MVR 0.50.

An amendment bill submitted to parliament in October 2023 proposes a tax exemption on bags procured for specific purposes, such as containing frozen meat or wool for bin liners. It also suggests introducing a uniform tax to alleviate administrative burdens on retail shops and cafés and reducing the bag fee to MVR 0.50 with an annual review.

The current administration under Mohamed Muizzu also opposes the reduction of the plastic bag fee. Thoriq Ibrahim, the Minister of Climate Change, Environment and Energy, stated in December 2023 that reducing or eliminating the fee could potentially obstruct the government’s efforts to phase out plastic usage.

The escalating plastic pollution in the Maldives significantly threatens the tourism and fishing industries. The Maldives generates 365,000 tonnes of solid waste annually, produced mainly by resort islands, according to the World Bank.