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‘Single use’ carrier bag levy comes into force in Northern Ireland on 8th April

A plastic bag tax, which will charge customers 5p (rising to 10p in 2014) for every carrier bag supplied to them by retailers, is to be introduced in Northern Ireland on 8th April 2013. It is estimated that 250 million ‘single use’ carrier bags are used in Northern Ireland every year and this figure is expected to fall by at least 80% after the tax is introduced.

‘Single use’ carrier bag levy comes into force in Northern Ireland on 8th April

Environment Minister Alex Attwood said; “Recent statistics have shown a significant increase in single use carrier bags handed out by major supermarkets in Northern Ireland, it is the big retailers which I am most interested in. This is an area where consumers can really help the environment. We want to demonstrate that the Northern Ireland government is dedicated to the clean and green agenda.”

The levy also applies to bags made from paper, plant-based material or natural starch.

“Evidence from other countries demonstrates that a bag levy is a simple and effective means to reduce substantially the negative environmental impact of carrier bag consumption. However, I recognise that consumers will need time to change their behaviour and adjust to bringing their own bags when they shop. I therefore propose to discount the charge to 5p in the first year. This will ensure a phased approach to charging,” Atwood said.

A charge for plastic bags was first introduced in the Republic of Ireland in 2002. The charge currently stands at 22 cents (18p) per bag. Following the introduction of the charge, consumption of plastic bags in the Republic fell by 90% – from an initial consumption of 1.2bn bags per year, or about 306 per person.
For us the mantra “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is common sense and applies to plastic bags as much as other household items. Very thin plastic bags are not as strong as long-life bags, don’t last, get blocked in waterways and are not often recycled. We always encourage companies to have bespoke long-life bags to enhance their brand and support the three R’s.

Depending on a business’ requirements, ecobags can be made from environmentally friendly jute, woven or non-woven PP (polypropylene), cotton or rPET (made from recycled plastic bottles), all of which can be used hundreds of times, promoting the company with each use.


NI Direct - Bag Levy
BBC Northern Ireland plastic bag levy is approved in assembly 
BBC Carrier Bag Charge: Supermarkets say use in Wales cut by up to 90%

Further reading:

What does the future hold for plastic bags?

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