Carrier bag levy
The carrier bag levy was introduced in April 2013 and retailers in Northern Ireland must now charge at least 5p for a new single use carrier bag. The aim of the levy is to cut the number of carrier bags we use. This will benefit the environment by reducing carbon emissions and air and water pollution associated with unnecessary carrier bag production, transportation and disposal.
Carrier bag usage figures for the first year of operation of the levy indicate that 84.5 million single use carrier bags were issued by Northern Ireland retailers compared to around 300 million bags in the year before the levy was introduced. This is a reduction of 72%.
Retailers are required to pay the proceeds of the levy to the Department. The money raised is used to help communities, charities, businesses, schools and voluntary organisations to deliver local programmes to improve the environment for everyone. So far, £4.17 million has been raised and £3.4 million has already been allocated to environmental projects.
From 19 January 2015 the 5 pence levy will be extended to all new carrier bags with a retail price of less than 20 pence - to encourage shoppers to reuse all types of bags and protect the environment.