Plastic Bag Levy Sees 72% Reduction in Northern Ireland’s Usage

Friday, August 29, 2014

New figures from the Department of the Environment show that the use of plastic bags by consumers in Northern Ireland has fallen by nearly 72% following the implementation of a 5 pence charge.

The levy on single-use plastic bags was introduced in Northern Ireland in April 2013 to aim to discourage and reduce the use of plastic bags and to drive positive impacts on wider litter and waste management issues. 

Before the charges were introduced it was estimated that more than 300 million single-use plastic bags were used in Northern Ireland every year.  These latest official figures suggest that around 84.5 million single-use bags were issued by retailers in 2013/2014, which represents a reduction of more than 215 million plastic bags.

In addition, more than £4.17 million has been raised so far by the scheme.  This money has been donated to charitable causes, including 250 community lead environmental projects through NIEA Challenge Fund, Natural Heritage grants, Sustainability Innovation Fund and Local Clean-up Support projects.

Phase two of the plastic bag levy in Northern Ireland is due to start in January 2015 and will require retailers to add 5p to all reusable bags with a retail price of less than 20p.  It is hoped that this will lead to further reductions in the use of plastic bags.

A levy on single use bags is also due to come into effect in Scotland from October 2014 and in England in Autumn 2015.  A 5p levy has also been in effect in Wales since October 2011. 

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