‘Dramatic’ drop in carrier bags after Northern Ireland introduces 5p charge

The first year of the 'bag tax' in Northern Ireland has saved almost 215 million single-use carrier bags in Northern Ireland
The first year of the 'bag tax' in Northern Ireland has saved almost 215 million single-use carrier bags in Northern Ireland

£2.5million from the first year of Stormont's 'bag tax' will be used to support community projects, according to Northern Ireland Environment Minister Mark Durkan

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28 August 2014 | 0

The first year of Stormont’s “bag tax” has saved almost 215 million single-use carrier bags in Northern Ireland.

The Department of the Environment (DoE) in the north said that between April 2013 and March of this year there had been a decrease of almost 72% since the introduction of a 5p charge for carrier bags. The vast majority of the bags are plastic but some other bags — controversially also including paper bags — are affected by the charge.

The department said people have “embraced the carrier bag levy” by “dramatically” reducing their consumption of single-use bags.

There were 84.5 million single-use carrier bags dispensed during the 12-month period, down from the department’s estimate of 300 million bags given out in the preceding year. Bags which are exempt from the bag tax, including those used for raw or hot food, are not included in the figures.

The SDLP’s Environment Minister, Mark Durkan, said: “I am delighted to announce that £2.5million of this year’s levy receipts will be available to support community projects.”

The DoE said that even before the bag tax was enacted the number of single-use bags issued in the province had fallen because of retailers’ efforts — dropping from an estimated 425 million in 2006-2007 to 300 million six years later.

The DoE said that during the first year of the scheme it had received £4.17 million from the charge and that the money is to be used by community or environmental projects. It is understood that in coming weeks the minister will set out how groups can apply for some of the money.

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