The 5p tax will relate to all one-time use bags. This includes all bags made from plastic, paper, plant-based material and natural starch.
The proposed levy come into effect on April 8 and will apply to single use plastic bags, paper bags and includes those made from plant-based material.
There are a few, specific exceptions implemented for takeaway hot food and drinks as well as single use bags for medical products and raw food items.
The Northern Ireland Chief Executive expects up to eighty per cent reduction in the use of throwaware plastic bags and has predicted that as many as a quater of a billion bags are used each and every year every year in Northern Ireland. The new eco tax will be used to raise additional revenue to finance other eco projects and activities, as well as all funds will be directed to the Department of Environment.
Northern Ireland’s Environment Minister, Alex Attwood, was pleased to get the resounding support of the full Assembly is an massive landmark in starting the carrier bag tax on April 8. Recent statistics have shown a significant increase in single use carrier bags distributed by large supermarkets in Northern Ireland - it is the big retailers to which the initiative is really aiming. This tax is expected to help reduce the number of carrier bags by at least 80%.
The image of Northern Ireland has always been ‘green & clean’ – it plays a huge part of the Irish lives and the appeal of the country and can be reinforced if the issue of carrier bags and their effect on the environment is lessened. This is an area where consumers can really help the environment
The main objective of the carrier bag levy is to reduce or eliminate the unnecessary use of bags, regardless of what material they are made from. It is hoped that the introduction of charging for each bag will help to deliver the wider ‘reduce and reuse’ waste message. The revenue raised from the levy will be used to fund other Departmental environmental programmes and activities.
Levy to be increased
The Environmental Minister is also planning to raise the levy in April 2014 to 10p and is planning to bring in further legislation to the Assembly that will drive proposals onward later on in the coming year.
This Northern Ireland initiative comes after the Welsh Assembly Government imposed a similar carrier bag charge in Oct 2011. It was the first of its kind in the UK, where a five pence charge is in effect for all single-use plastic and paper bags. Retailers estimated that the number of single-use bags given out has fallen by between 70 and 96%.
Elsewhere, in England, Defra is under heavy pressure to bring in a levy on single-use carrier bags. It is considering a similar plan, but is first analyzing data from the Welsh experiment.
Lee writes and wroks for Amspac.co.uk a UK based ethical plastic bag company offering bespoke bags for business and pleasure.