A 5p shopping bag levy has been introduced in Northern Ireland. From 8 April retailers and businesses in must charge at least 5 pence for each new single use carrier bag they supply to customers. The levy not only applies to plastic bags but also covers single use bags made from other natural materials.
At the moment around 250 million carrier bags are used each year in Northern Ireland and the levy is designed to cut that number dramatically to reduce environmental damage. The evidence from other countries shows that a bag levy is a very effective way of achieving this.
Of course, consumers can avoid paying the levy by simply 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 virgin raw materials, reducing carbon used up when bags are being manufactured and reducing waste that ends up in landfill.
Retailers must pay the proceeds of the 5p levy to the DOE. The money will be used to help fund environmental programmes and activities.