Northern Ireland to charge for carriers

31st January 2012

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Related tags

  • Pollution & Waste Management ,
  • Prevention & Control ,
  • Retail and wholesale



Shoppers in Northern Ireland will have to pay 5p for single-use carrier bags from April 2013, the devolved government has announced.

The charge forms part of the Northern Ireland Department of the Environment’s (DOE) bid to cut the number of disposable carrier bags used in the province each year, which now totals 250 million, and follows the introduction of similar levies in Ireland in 2002 and Wales last October.

Initially the DOE proposed a 10p levy, but has announced the scheme will start at the lower 5p rate for the first 12 months to give consumers time to get used to taking their own bags shopping.

“There is no doubt that carrier bags are a scourge on the environment, and evidence from other countries demonstrates that a bag levy is a simple and effective means to reduce the negative environmental impact of carrier bag consumption,” said Northern Ireland’s environment minister Alex Attwood.

“However, I recognise that consumers will need time to change their behaviour... I therefore propose to discount the charge in the first year.”

The 5p charge will apply to single-use carrier bags made from plastic, paper or plant-based materials, however, when the charge is increased to 10p on 1 April 2014, it will also be extended to some reusable bags.

According to the DOE, the charge reflects the “full social cost of carrier bags”, incorporating the impacts of carbon emissions and pollution associated with their creation, as well as the cost of clearing up discarded bags.

Funds raised through the charge will be used for environmental projects.


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