Northern Minister introduces new 5p carrier bag levy

Money raised from new charge will help ‘improve the environment’

A new plastic bag levy is coming into  effect in Northern Ireland.

A new plastic bag levy is coming into effect in Northern Ireland.

Sun, Apr 7, 2013, 18:56

tomorrow morning shoppers on all of the island of Ireland must pay a plastic bag levy after the North's Minister of the Environment Alex Attwood formally introduced the charges in Northern Ireland.

Northern shoppers not only must now pay a 5 pence charge for plastic bags but for all similar shopping bags as the levy also applies to bags made from paper, starch and other natural materials.

Mr Attwood said the charge was designed to "slash" the estimated 250 million bags used in Northern Ireland each year. "In Northern Ireland we are using 30,000 carrier bags each and every hour. This levy is intended to help protect the environment by dramatically cutting the number of bags used," he said.

Working with the retail sector we are aiming for a reduction of at least 80 per cent. Some retailers have already indicated that they will be eliminating single use bags altogether," added the SDLP Minister.

Retailers are required to pass the proceeds of the levy to the Department of the Environment each quarter with Mr Attwood saying the money raised will be used "to help community and voluntary organisations, businesses, schools and charities improve the environment".

Encouraging people to adapt to the new charge Mr Attwood said, "Shoppers can completely avoid paying the levy by bringing their own bags when shopping. Whether it's a 'bag for life', a canvas bag, or just an ordinary plastic carrier bag, it all helps the environment by using less raw materials, reducing carbon emissions and reducing air and water pollution. This is what the levy is all about."

The levy doesn't apply to bags manufactured for reuse, some small bags, bags to carry hot food/drinks to be consumed away from a retail outlet, bags for items on prescription and bags solely containing packaged uncooked meat, poultry or fish.