In Ireland, the question “paper or plastic?” has become all but obsolete after the introduction last March of a tax on supermarket bags. Irish Environment Minister Martin Cullen announced this week that the tax has been highly successful, with the amount of plastic bags provided by grocery stores dropping 90 percent after the tax was enacted, from an estimated 1.2 billion bags per year. Moreover, the tax put $3.4 million into national coffers; the money will be spent on protecting the environment. “The reduction has been immediate and the positive visual impact on the environment is plain to see,” Cullen said. Inspired by the Irish success, British Environment Minister Michael Meacher hopes to implement a similar plan in Britain.