Belfast Telegraph

New proposals to extend carrier bag charges proposed by Attwood

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Environment Minister, Alex Attwood, today outlined proposals for new legislation which will extend the current carrier bag levy to a wider variety of bags.

Through the new Carrier Bags Bill, debated in the Assembly today, the Minister is seeking for the levy to be extended to low cost reusable bags

The aim is to stop low cost reusable bags becoming ‘throw-away bags’, littering the environment.

Further, at present there is a 5p levy on single use carrier bags. The Minister intends to increase the levy on both single use and multi use low cost carrier bags to 10p next April.Alex Attwood said: “The welcome for the levy confirmed to me that people here wanted to help tackle the issue of waste and make local efforts to address climate threat. I want to build on this momentum and people’s clear ambitions. That is what the new Bill aims to do.

"On 8 April I introduced a 5 pence levy on single use carrier bags. Early indications show that the levy has been enthusiastically received by a wide range of consumers and retailers and that the target reduction of at least 80% is within our reach.

“I intend to use the powers - once passed - conferred by the Bill to extend the levy to the lower cost versions of reusable bags. At the moment, these bags can be bought for as little as 5 pence. If they were to remain excluded from the levy many consumers may treat them as ‘throw-away bags’.

Referring to the proposed increase in the levy on bags the Minister said:

“The existing 5 pence levy gives consumers time to get used to bringing their own bags when they shop. However my Department’s modelling suggests that a 10 pence levy is the amount which will maintain the downward trend in carrier bag consumption.”

“It is my intention to increase the levy for single use bags and low cost reusable bags from 5p to 10p next April. I will, before I set the price threshold for reusable bags, hear what stakeholders – including representatives from the retail sector – have to say.”

The Minister confirmed that his target date for the implementation of these changes is April 2014. He will however keep this date under review, as the legislation progresses through the Assembly.

Further information on the carrier bag levy can be found on: www.nidirect.gov.uk/baglevy

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