Published Thursday, 22 August 2013
Provisional Carrier Bag Levy figures indicated that 17.5million plastic bags were dispensed by retailers between 8 April and 30 June.
The Single Use Carrier Bags Charge Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2013 requires retailers to charge at least 5p for each single use carrier bag supplied new to customers and pay the net proceeds of the levy to the Department of Environment (DOE).
The department estimates that in the region of 300m carrier bags were used in Northern Ireland last year, but precise pre-levy figures were not recorded.
Environment Minister Mark H Durkan welcomed the early indications of a significant drop in use.
"This is great news for the environment. Our streets and hedgerows, our fields and parks should no longer be places strewn with discarded bags. In many ways the public are ahead of government here, showing a great appetite for this legislation to be introduced.
"I commend people for their responsible attitude and willingness to come on board. They are making a personal contribution to addressing the threat of climate change and environmental damage."
He concluded:"I very much urge them to keep up the momentum - keep reusing bags."
© UTV News