Poots – Don’t Pay to Throw Away, re-use your carrier bags

Date published: 08 February 2022

Environment Minister Edwin Poots MLA has again urged people to protect the environment by re-using carrier bags wherever possible, following yesterday’s approval by the NI Assembly of an increase to the Carrier Bag Levy Charge in Northern Ireland.

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Minister Poots had announced in November 2021 his intention to increase the Carrier Bag Levy charge in NI from 5p to 25 from 1st April 2022. In addition to the rise in the Levy and some other minor amendments, the Minister had also announced an extension to the existing pricing threshold, which will see all bags priced at £5 or less subject to the levy, irrespective of the material they are made from.

Minister Poots said: “Since the 5p Carrier Bag Levy was introduced in NI in 2013, it has removed in excess of 1.7 billion bags from circulation, which has helped significantly towards protecting the environment. However, I am aware that a significant number of retailers in NI are selling large volumes of heavy duty bags at a cost of 20 pence or more. These are now flooding the market and are not being reused, with harmful environmental consequences. The announcement that all retailers will now be required to charge a 25p levy on all bags they dispense with a price not greater than £5 will encourage the reuse of carrier bags, therefore reducing the number of bags in circulation and will go some way towards making Northern Ireland a cleaner, greener place in which to live."

The Minister continued: “The reinvestment of levy proceeds to environmental projects across NI is benefiting everyone particularly as what is good for the environment is good for the economy in the long term. By continuing to work together we can help meet the New Decade, New Approach commitment on eliminating plastic pollution, this also underpins the draft Green Growth Strategy for Northern Ireland, which my Department is leading on on behalf of the NI Executive.”

Concluding, Minister Poots said: “The environmental benefits of a reduction in carrier bag usage feeds into a reduction in waste management, reduced litter on our streets and in our oceans, improved air quality, green growth, resource efficiency and a circular economy. The Carrier Bag Levy in NI leads the way within the UK and any legislative change must deliver continued improvement, consumer awareness and positive behavioural change in protecting our environment. My Department will continue to work hard on the issue of the circular economy, eliminating plastic pollution and tackling throwaway culture. With plastic waste set to quadruple by 2050, I would encourage everyone to play their part – don’t pay to throw away - bring your own bag; reuse your bag and only purchase a new bag when necessary.”  

Notes to editors: 

1. The Single Use Carrier Bags Charge (Amendment and Revocation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2022 amend the Single Use Carrier Bags Charge Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2013 to include:

  • requiring sellers to charge customers at least 25p for each carrier bag supplied new;
  • amending the existing exemption from the levy on carrier bags priced at 20p and above (“the threshold”) to bags priced at greater than £5.

2. The Carrier Bag Levy in Northern Ireland applies to ALL bags and not just plastic bags.

3. A consultation on the Carrier Bag Levy NI opened on 1 June 2021 and Closed on 27 July 2021.

4. Annual validated statistics are available on the DAERA website.

5. Carrier Bag Levy legislation is available at: www.legislation.gov.uk/nisr/2013/4/regulation/1/made and www.legislation.gov.uk/nia/2014/7/contents/enacted

6. The scope and increased charge to 10p in the Carrier Bag Levy was introduced in England from May 2021, with the charge also increased in Scotland to 10p from April 2021.

7. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

8. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office

9. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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