Minister backs plastic bag charge
A new plastic bag levy will help reduce the 200 million shopping bags used each year in Northern Ireland, the minister tabling the plan has said.
The Executive included a plastic bag charge in its economic blueprint for the new Assembly term in a bid to raise cash and reduce environmental damage.
Environment minister Alex Attwood, tasked with introducing the charge by 2013, launched a consultation asking the public for their views on a levy and on how much should be charged.
In the Republic of Ireland a charge of 22 cents is payable for most plastic bags. In Wales a charge of 5p will be placed on single-use carrier bags from October 2011, while England and Scotland do not currently propose to introduce a charging system.
Mr Attwood said: "I am determined that we treat the environment as what it is: one of our most valuable assets.
"Over 200 million carrier bags are used in Northern Ireland each year.
"The aim of this charge is to both reduce bag usage and at the same time raise revenue that would be used to provide funding for the environment and other Government priorities.
"This is a green initiative. It can symbolise a change of attitude, a change in culture, a change for the better.
"Throw-away bags are an eyesore and result in hidden costs which each and every one of us pays.
"Not only do we pay for the costs of producing them in our shopping bills, but we pay for their impact on the environment and the costs of cleaning them up."