Since the carrier bag levy was introduced in April 2013, retailers in Northern Ireland must charge at least 5p for new single use carrier bags.
Prior to the introduction of the levy, we used over 300 million carrier bags every year. The aim of the levy is to protect the environment by cutting the number of carrier bags we use.
Provisional results for the period 8 April to 30 June 2013 indicate a very substantial reduction in the number of single use bags dispensed. 18m single use bags were distributed by retailers during the period.
The Department has allocated £1million of funding from the levy to the Community Challenge Fund to deliver local projects to improve the environment. Further funding announcements will be made later in the year.
Extending the 5p Levy - New Reusable Bags
The Executive's Programme for Government contains a commitment to extend the levy to low cost reusable bags.
This is an important change to the levy - as producing, transporting, dispensing and disposing of carrier bags, regardless of whether they are single use or reusable, harms the environment.
If the levy weren't to be extended, much of the environmental benefit of the 5p single use bag levy would be lost due to increased but unnecessary sales of new reusable bags.
The best environmental outcome will be achieved when as many shoppers as possible reuse their bags on a frequent basis - rather than purchasing new carrier bags.
To achieve this goal and build upon the environmental success of the 5p single use bag levy, the Department of the Environment intends to proceed with the planned extension of the 5p levy to reusable bags costing less than 20p in 2015.
If they wish, shops will still be permitted to replace worn out reusable plastic carrier bags for free.
If you want to find out more about the levy, click here:
If you're a retailer and need to submit your bag use data and payment to the Department, click here: