Northern Ireland to introduce five pence tax on plastic carrier bags in April 2013 that will increase to 10 pence in April 2014 and include multi-use bags; tax subject to Assembly approval

BELFAST, U.K. , January 30, 2012 (press release) – Environment Minister Alex Attwood today announced that a five pence levy on single use carrier bags will be introduced in April 2013.

This will increase to ten pence in April 2014. The Minister has lowered the levy in the first year enabling consumers to adjust to the concept. Further, there will be no charge on multi use carrier bags in April 2013 as the ten pence levy won't apply to these bags until April 2014.

This is the first time that a levy will be introduced on carrier bags in Northern Ireland.

Alex Attwood said: “There is no doubt that carrier bags are a scourge on the environment. Evidence from other countries demonstrates that a bag levy is a simple and effective means to reduce substantially the negative environmental impact of carrier bag consumption. A proposed ten pence levy on single use carrier bags and lower cost reusable carrier bags can bring about significant environmental improvement.

“However I recognise that consumers will need time to change their behaviour and adjust to bringing their own bags when they shop. I therefore propose to discount the charge to five pence in the first year, when the levy will only apply to single use carrier bags. This will ensure a phased approach to charging. I am committed to making Northern Ireland a better place to live, work and invest and this will certainly contribute to that goal.”

Administration of the scheme will be based in Derry, reflecting the Minister’s commitment to job dispersal in the draft Programme for Government.

He said: “With the creation of the new carrier bag levy I welcome the potential to now locate up to ten civil servant posts in the North West, through the establishment of a new collection and enforcement team to administer the levy and deliver a cost effective in-house IT system.”

Alex Attwood concluded: “I fully recognise that this new levy will be of great relevance to many consumers and businesses in Northern Ireland. People can get detailed information of arrangements for implementation on http://www.rethinkwasteni.org/carrierbaglevy. The website will be updated and extended, as the details of the carrier bag levy are developed.”

The introduction of the levy is subject to Assembly approval of the required legislation.

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