Northern Ireland carrier bag levy annual statistics 2017/18 released

Date published: 23 August 2018

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs has published the Northern Ireland carrier bag levy annual statistics for 2017/18.

DARD report

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 2017 and 31 March 2018 as notified to the Department by 30 June 2018. It is available from the DAERA website.

The key points are:

  • During the fifth year of operation, 98.8 million bags were dispensed by retailers under the carrier bag levy in Northern Ireland.
  • This was 1.1% lower than the previous year, with 1.1 million fewer bags dispensed.
  • The number of carrier bags dispensed in 2017/18 is markedly lower than the baseline figure prior to the introduction of the levy, which, for 2012 was estimated at 300 million bags. Year five of the 5p levy saw a reduction in bag numbers of 67.1% compared to the 2012 baseline.
  • The proceeds of the levy for 2017/18 totalled £4.9million, a reduction of £0.1million (2.0%) 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.
  • The fifth year of operation marks a milestone for the carrier bag levy as the reduction in the number of bags in circulation across Northern Ireland is estimated to have reached 1 billion bags since the levy was introduced.

Further information

The statistical report containing more detail can be accessed via the DAERA website.

Notes to editors: 

  1. This is the fifth year of the carrier bag levy in Northern Ireland. These are the final official statistics for 2017/18. The Department intends to publish 2018/19 figures in August 2019. 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.
  3. The figures are based on data supplied by 2,575 retailers in Northern Ireland as notified to the Department by 30 June 2018. 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 has been estimated that the number of bags notified by 30 June has been between 1% and 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. Download guidance on carrier bag levy enforcement.
  7. The Department may take photographs and videos at announcements and events to publicise its work. Photographs, interviews, videos or other recordings may be issued to media organisations for publicity purposes or used in promotional material, including in publications, newspapers, magazines, other print media, on television, radio and electronic media (including social media and the internet). Photographs and videos will also be stored on the department’s internal records management system. The department will keep the photographs and recordings for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which they have been obtained. The Department’s Privacy Policy is available on our website.
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  9. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or via email. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110.


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