Northern Ireland carrier bag levy annual statistics 2015/16 released

Date published: 25 August 2016


Northern Ireland carrier bag levy annual statistics for 2015/16 have been published today by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

DARD statistics

This statistical report is updated annually and the published statistics relate to the carrier bag levy that commenced on 8 April 2013. The figures relate to the number of bags dispensed by retailers in Northern Ireland between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2016 as notified to the Department by 30 June 2016. It is available on the DAERA website.

The key points are:

During the third year of operation, 101.2 million carrier bags were dispensed by retailers under the carrier bag levy in Northern Ireland.
This was 10.6% higher than the previous year, as 9.7 million more bags were dispensed. It is important to note that a change was made to the Regulations during the last quarter of 2014/15 and came into operation on 19 January 2015. This meant more bags fell within the scope of the Regulations and consequently additional bag usage being reported throughout 2015/16 than during the first three quarters of 2014/15.This contributed to the greater number of carrier bags dispensed.
The number of carrier bags dispensed in 2015/16 is still markedly lower than the baseline figure prior to the introduction of the levy, which was estimated at 300 million bags in 2012. Year 3 of the 5p levy saw a reduction in bag numbers of 66.3% compared to the baseline figure which meant approximately 198.8 million fewer bags in circulation.

The proceeds of the levy for 2015/16 totalled £5.2million, an increase of £0.5million (10.8%) from the previous year. Proceeds are taken from audited Departmental financial accounts and are not Official Statistics. They cannot be calculated from bag usage figures due to differences in timing and recording.

Notes to editors: 

  1. This is the third year of the carrier bag levy in Northern Ireland. These are the final official statistics for 2015/16. The Department intends to publish 2016/17 figures in August 2017. Reports from previous years can be accessed from the DAERA website.
  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. The main exemptions are listed on carrier bag levy section of nidirect and the full list is available from Schedule 1 of the Regulations at the nidirect website and website.
  3. The figures are based on data supplied by 2,963 retailers in Northern Ireland as notified to the Department by 30 June 2016. Note that this is not the number of actual premises at which carrier bags are dispensed, as one retailer can submit returns for more than one outlet.
  4. 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 were adjusted to take account of reductions in bag usage as a result of voluntary retailer measures since 2008.
  5. 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.
  6. These figures have undergone audit by Carrier Bag Levy Team, which has responsibility for administration and collection of the levy and ensuring that sellers comply with the Regulations. Guidance on carrier bag levy enforcement is available from the ni direct website. Initial validation checks are carried out by Carrier Bag Levy Team with further validation by Statistics and Analytical Service Branch in DAERA. Any discrepancies are queried with Carrier Bag Levy Team.
  7. These statistics are released according to the Statement of Compliance with the Pre-release access to Official Statistics Order (NI) 2009. Official Statistics are produced to a high professional standard. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference.
  8. More information on the carrier bag levy can be found on the nidirect website.
  9. 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.
  10. Follow us on Twitter @daera_ni




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