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POLITICS

Sweden to scrap tax on plastic carrier bags

Sweden's right-wing coalition plans to abolish a tax on plastic bags as of November 2024, a tax originally brought in by the previous centre-left government in an attempt to cut the use of plastic.

Sweden to scrap tax on plastic carrier bags
A woman carrying plastic bags from the Ica supermarket. Photo: Hasse Holmberg/Scanpix

“We’re convinced that the Swedish people use plastic bags wisely in their daily lives and that there’s no reason they should be extra expensive,” Climate Minister Romina Pourmokhtari told Swedish broadcaster SVT on Wednesday.

The proposal comes one week after the government, in power since October 2022 and backed for the first time by the far-right Sweden Democrats, announced it planned to cut petrol and diesel taxes.

The proposals have raised concerns that the new government’s climate policy is backsliding after years of pioneering efforts.

The Scandinavian country introduced a tax of three kronor ($0.27) on plastic bags in 2020, though some stores raised the price to as much as seven kronor ($0.63).

CLIMATE CRISIS:

In 2019, the year before the tax was introduced, Swedes bought 74 plastic bags per person per year, a number that fell to 17 in 2022, according to the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.

The EU target is a maximum of 40 per person as of 2025.

“The tax is considered to have some negative effects, such as administrative costs, and can also lead to increased consumption of other alternatives,” the government said in a statement.

Such alternatives include paper bags, the production of which can require higher energy and water consumption.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Agency for Marine and Water Management have warned that lowering or abolishing the tax could lead to an increase in plastic waste in nature.

It also “entails the risk that the (EU) target won’t be achieved,” the EPA said in an expert consideration of the proposal sent to the government last year.

“The plastic bag tax has shown that financial incentives are an effective way of steering consumers’ use,” it said.

The government said it would continue to monitor the consumption of plastic bags going forward.

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POLITICS

TikTok shuts down Sweden Democrats’ anonymous accounts

TikTok has closed down the Sweden Democrats’ anonymous accounts after a Swedish documentary revealed that the far-right party operated a secret social media troll farm.

TikTok shuts down Sweden Democrats' anonymous accounts

The documentary, by broadcaster TV4’s Kalla Fakta programme, identified 23 anonymous social media accounts controlled by the Sweden Democrats’ communications team.

Those included 13 accounts on Chinese-owned video hosting app TikTok, which have all been shut down, the platform confirmed to Swedish news agency TT on Monday.

TikTok declined to comment on why they had removed the accounts.

Sweden Democrat press officer Oskar Cavalli-Björkman said the party was trying to contact TikTok to find out why the accounts had been closed, but declined to comment further.

In the Kalla Fakta documentary, a reporter went undercover within the Sweden Democrats’ communications department. They revealed a number of things, including attempts at smear campaigns on politicians from other parties.

It also revealed a total of 23 different anonymous accounts spread across TikTok, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, which are all run by the Sweden Democrats and also spread for example radical anti-immigration views.

These accounts have a combined 260,000 followers and published roughly 1,000 posts in the first three months of the year, which were viewed over 27 million times.

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