Public consultation on levy for single-use bags in Northern Ireland / Charge to be introduced by April 2013
The Northern Ireland Department of Environment (Belfast; has launched a public consultation as part of its programme to introduce a charge for single-use carrier bags no later than 1 April 2013. The consultation will seek views on a range of issues concerning the proposed levy, which is designed to raise money to help fund environmental initiatives and to considerably reduce the number of bags in circulation, estimated at 233m in 2009/10. The other key features of the proposed levy are that sellers will be obliged to pass on the charge to customers and to forward the revenue generated by the minimum charge to the DOE.

The public consultation opened on 20 July 2011 and closes on 12 October 2011. Issues that members of the public are asked to comment on includes: the types of sellers who should be subject to the levy; the level at which the levy should be set to deliver the key objectives of reducing bag usage and generating revenue; the types of bags to which the levy will apply (and possible exemptions); the information sellers should have to keep in relation to the levy and whether they should have to publish their records; and how the levy will be collected and enforced.

Statistical evidence from the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP, Banbury / UK; suggests that some 189m single-use carrier bags were issued by major supermarkets in Northern Ireland during 2009/10, down by 9.3% on the previous year, thanks to a voluntary agreement to attempt to reduce the number in circulation. The number of bags issued by supermarkets is estimated to be 80% of the total number of bags in circulation that year. Experience elsewhere suggests the introduction of a charge reduces usage by 87-91%, and potentially by up to 95%.

The DOE says the proposed charge for single-use bags in Northern Ireland will need to raise GBP 4m (EUR 4.5m) to restore the deficit in its annual budget. In the Republic of Ireland a charge of 15 cents was introduced in 2002; this was increased to 22 cents in 2007 see of 27.09.2006. It is estimated to have raised EUR 80m to date. In Wales a 5 pence per bag charge will be introduced in October 2011 see of 11.11.2010.
28.07.2011 [219908-0]
Published on 28.07.2011

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