Consumers are to be given an added incentive to bring their own bags to shops with Northern Ireland’s Carrier Bag Levy set to increase by 400% to 25p from April 2022.
Environment Minister Edwin Poots yesterday announced the Carrier Bag Levy charge in Northern Ireland will increase from 5p to 25p from April 1, 2022.
An extension to the existing pricing threshold will also see all bags priced at £5 or less subject to the levy, irrespective of the material from which they are made.
“Whilst the existing Carrier Bag Levy has been successful in already removing over 1.7 billion bags from circulation, I am aware that a significant number of retailers in NI are selling large volumes of heavy-duty bags at a cost of 20p or more each,” said Poots.
“These are now flooding the market and are not being reused, with harmful environmental consequences.
“This announcement will go some way towards making Northern Ireland a cleaner and more pleasant place in which to live, by ensuring that proceeds from the Levy are re-invested in supporting the wider NI environmental sector.
“By continuing to work together we can help meet the New Decade, New Approach commitment on eliminating plastic pollution, this also underpins the draft Green Growth Strategy for Northern Ireland, which I recently launched on behalf of the NI Executive.
“It is unacceptable that far too much plastic ends up as pollution in our environment or waste in our landfills. My Department will continue to work hard on the issue of the circular economy, eliminating plastic pollution and tackling throwaway culture.
“With over five trillion single use plastic bags used worldwide every year and plastic waste set to quadruple by 2050, I would encourage everyone to play their part locally and re-use bags whenever they can.”
Glyn Roberts, chief executive of Retail NI, said: “We absolutely share Ministers Poots’ objective of less plastic being in circulation and continuing to litter our streets. Retail NI members have led the way in in reducing plastic packaging and promoting bag-for-life options.
“Northern Ireland already has one of the most extensive carrier bag levies in the UK, covering single use and plastic which has led to a reduction in Carrier Bag usage by 73.2% (1.5 billion bags). Retail NI argued for the current 5p charge to be increased to a more realistic figure of 10p in line with what is being proposed in England and Scotland”
“We believe this excessive increase will disproportionally impact on low-income families at time of huge economic turmoil with Covid-19, high energy bills and increases in National Insurance.
“Retail NI have asked for an immediate meeting with the Minister to discuss these proposals.”
Ian Humphreys, chief executive of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful (KNIB), said: “This is a brave move in the fight against plastic pollution, one that KNIB has been pushing Stormont on for some time.
“This move will hopefully deter throw away culture and consumer dependency on single-use plastics and instead encourage consumers to be more sustainably-minded and reuse shopping bags.
“The announcement comes in the midst of COP26 which has served as an excellent platform to us all to acknowledge that the environmental challenges that face us are very real and immediate.
“If we all commit to small changes now, such as reusing plastic bags or not purchasing them at all, it will have a hugely positive impact.”
A consultation on the Carrier Bag Levy NI opened closed on July 27. The Carrier Bag Levy is to be increased to 10p in England and Scotland.