Assembly approves plastic bag tax

Published Monday, 14 January 2013
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Legislation has been approved that will see Northern Ireland customers charged five pence for each carrier bag supplied to them by retailers.

Assembly approves plastic bag tax
The plastic bag tax will see customers charged 5p for a carrier bag. (© PA)

Environment Minister Alex Attwood has said he envisages the levy will lead to an 80% reduction in the use of plastic bags.

The Single Use Carrier Bags Charge Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2013 were approved by the Assembly on Monday and will come into effect from 8 April, when retailer will be required to charge customers for each new single carrier bag supplied.

The proceeds of the levy will be forwarded to the Department of the Environment.

"Recent statistics have shown a significant increase in single use carrier bags handed out by major supermarkets in Northern Ireland - it is the big retailers which I am most interested in," Mr Attwood explained.

"This is an area where consumers can really help the environment. The image of NI as 'green and clean' - a major part of the character of our lives and the appeal of this place - can be deepened if we deal decisively with carrier bags and the damage they cause."

The levy is not confined to plastic bags - it also applies to bags made from paper, plant-based material or natural starch.

The new legislation does provide for a range of exemptions from the levy on the grounds of hygiene and food safety, the protection of both goods and consumers and confidentiality in respect of prescription medicines.

The Minister added: "The key objective of the carrier bag levy is to reduce or eliminate the unnecessary use of bags, regardless of the material from which they are made.

"The introduction of charging will help to communicate the wider 'reduce and reuse' waste message. The revenue raised from the levy will contribute towards a number of Departmental environmental programmes and activities."

© UTV News
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13 Comments
You Couldn't Make It Up! in Antrim wrote (553 days ago):
This is dressed up as a green tax to save the environment - yet takeaway carrier bags are exempt!!! It's a tax for the sake of tax. It can be added to the other taxes and fines relating to car parking that the fools on the hill have introduced to make life even harder for us while they lord it up. What next? A bin tax? A congestion charge? An extra room tax? Be afraid .....
Ady in the bag wrote (553 days ago):
I can understand the plastic bag tax but cannot see any logic(except financial gain) for paper and bio-degradable bags being penalised !
Steve in Belfast wrote (553 days ago):
There is a simple solution for all the usual whingers - BRING YOUR OWN BAGS!!! It ain't rocket science........
martin in Downpatrick wrote (553 days ago):
This is the only thing the assembly have come up with since it was formed. Northern Ireland is a joke. Just another tax to pay the wages of these halfwits and bust the country.Did they tax the £20,000 of bottled water they drank a couple of years ago. Take a look at our roads and hospitals. Joke politicians in a joke country.
Fearful. in Outside Belfast wrote (554 days ago):
I own a card shop. I am losing everything I ever worked for. In our town there are very real and realistic fears that by the end of this year possibly 80% of town centre shops will be closed. I will be among them. Every card I sell goes into a paper bag. That will be enough to stop many customers buying. I will have to spend time administrating this new tax and will get no pay for this work. I will get a fine if I make a mistake. The traffic wardens, Danny Kennedy's 50% increase in parking charges and 100% increase in parking fines have cost us many customers. The rise in VAT to 20% has cost us many customers. The big rise in postage charges has cost us many customers with more in the pipeline. This is a perfect storm and it is all coming from the people in power who are supposed to help us. I am just defeated.
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