Minister welcomes sustained reduction in carrier bag use

Date published: 25 August 2016


Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Michelle McIlveen has welcomed the latest figures which show a sustained reduction in the number of carrier bags sent to landfill.

Statistics published today show that 199 million fewer carrier bags are in circulation in Northern Ireland today than when the levy was introduced in April 2013. 

Miss McIlveen said: “It is encouraging that so many carrier bags have been taken out of circulation since the introduction of the levy. The people of Northern Ireland have embraced the reuse and recycling of shopping bags. This significantly reduces the amount of both plastic and paper going to landfill.

“A small change in behaviour at the cash registers contributes hugely to enhancing and further protecting the environment and public space that we all share. I commend everyone involved in this collective effort, both shopkeepers and consumers. I also remind everyone to be mindful of unnecessary waste, and continue to reduce what we throw away.”

Due to the scope of the scheme being widened, overall bag usage has risen by approximately 10% since last year. From 19 January 2015, the levy applied to all carrier bags with a retail price of less than 20 pence, where previously it was limited to single-use bags.

For 2015-16, the Department channelled the money raised from the carrier bag levy to projects which underpin the delivery of key environmental outcomes. 

For example:

Nearly £1.8million was allocated through the Natural Heritage Fund and its successor the Natural Environment Fund

A further £0.4million was used to combat illegal waste dumping and nearly£0.5million was given to community waste organisations to support urban clean-up programmes such as Keep NI Beautiful and Live Here Love Here

£0.4million was allocated to the Challenge Fund to support local community environmental projects. 

Retailers who have any outstanding returns should visit the nidirect website, click on the “retailer registration login” button and simply follow the onscreen instructions.

If retailers encounter any problems they should contact the Carrier Bag Levy Team on 0300 200 7879 between the hours of 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday or by email on

Notes to editors: 

  1. Retailer returns to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Carrier Bag Levy Team are required / made on a quarterly basis.
  2. Bags which are exempt from the levy such as those used solely to contain unpackaged raw food or hot foods / hot drinks are not included in the data.  Retailers are not required to record this information. 
  3. The Department’s estimate of the number of bags dispensed in 2012 (300 million) is derived from UK-wide Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) data for 2008. The data was adjusted to take account of reductions in bag usage as a result of voluntary retailer measures since 2008.
  4. The figures presented in the release will not equate precisely to the total bags dispensed in the year due to the 30 June cut off date applied for the production of Official Statistics. For each year reported it is estimated that the number of bags notified by 30 June was around 3% lower than the actual total number of bags dispensed in that year.
  5. The Department intends to publish the 2016/17 figures in August 2017.
  6. Should this format not be suitable for your needs hard copies are available free of charge from:
    Carrier Bag Levy Team,
    Orchard House,
    40 Foyle Street,
    BT48 6AT
    Telephone: 028 7129 9010
  7. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or email DAERA Press Office: Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.
  8. Follow us on Twitter @daera_ni



Share this page

Back to top