PLastic bag floating in the water

Carrier Bag Levy NI Consultation

21st June 2021

DAERA has launched a consultation on the NI Carrier Bag Levy (via DAERA).

Outscape encourages all stakeholders to submit a response by 27th July 2021. Outscape supports tactics which reduce the litter in our outdoors, unfortunately single use carrier bags remain a source of such pollution. If addition, across the past seven years, Outscape has received funding as a result of revenue generated by the Carrier Bag Levy which we have invested in several projects to encourage people to connect with nature.

The current legislation was introduced in 2013 and has proved effective in reducing the use of carrier bags across Northern Ireland by 73.2% when compared to the baseline figure of 300 million bags in 2012.  Ongoing market scanning coupled with published DAERA validated statistics, clearly show a significant increase in the purchase of thicker heavier carrier bags, the level of which suggests that these are now the new ‘throw away’ bag which are not being reused as originally intended.  Carrier bags need to be reused in order to reduce their environmental impact and we must continue to work hard to deliver a cleaner and greener Northern Ireland which is a better place to live and do business.

The Minister said: “Whilst the existing Carrier Bag Levy has been successful in already removing in excess of 1.5 billion bags from circulation I am aware heavy duty bags are now flooding the market, and are not being reused with harmful environmental consequences. We can and must do more. To tackle as such we are intending to review, simplify and future proof our existing carrier bag legislation.”

Minister Poots added: “My Department continues to work hard on the issue of the circular economy and has shown resolve seeking to eliminate plastic pollution and tackle the throwaway culture. With over five trillion single use plastic bags used worldwide every year and plastic waste set to quadruple by 2050 we are encouraging our citizens to act locally but think globally.”

“This new consultation will help meet the New Decade, New Approach commitment on eliminating plastic pollution and also underpins the Green Growth framework which I am currently developing. It is also an integral  part of the range of other plastic reduction measures my Department has initiated through participation in the UK Plastics Pact, support for consultations on both a bottle deposit return scheme and the extended producer responsibility on packaging and also the roll out of policy to help reduce plastic used in our NI government estate.”

He concluded: “We have the most comprehensive Carrier Bag Levy in the UK which applies to not only plastic bags but all bags, which has already ensured that millions of pounds worth of proceeds have been reinvested in supporting the wider NI environmental sector. I would encourage stakeholders, industry and the general public to actively participate in this consultation which will run until 27 July 2021.

The consultation can be accessed here.