South Africans have been paying for plastic shopping bags since a 2004 plastic levy was introduced, as a way to encourage people to be more environmentally conscious.
In 2004, the South African Government introduced a plastic levy that led to South Africans having to pay for their plastic shopping bags. The decision to do so was a move to encourage South Africans to be more conscious of their carbon footprint. The funds from the plastic levy were meant to be allocated to projects and initiatives that would focus on promoting a greener South Africa.
While the intention of the plastic levy was to have funds to dedicate to green projects to reduce the carbon footprint of the country, that has been questioned. In 2018, when the government announced an imminent increase in the levy, multiple reports alleged that of the billions that were received, almost half of the money was reallocated to other projects. However, there has still been no clarity on which projects were funded by the plastic levy.