plastic carrier bag

Retailers in Northern Ireland have expressed concern over the decision to increase the carrier bag levy to 25p.

This comes after Northern Ireland’s environment minister, Edwin Poots, announced that the carrier bag levy charge will rise to 25p next April.

The Minister made the announcement during a statement to the assembly on Northern Ireland’s first overarching environment strategy.

Poots said: “Whilst the existing Carrier Bag Levy has been successful in already removing over 1.7 billion bags from circulation, I am aware that a significant number of retailers in NI are selling large volumes of heavy duty bags at a cost of 20 pence or more each. These are now flooding the market and are not being reused, with harmful environmental consequences.

“It is unacceptable that far too much plastic ends up as pollution in our environment or waste in our landfills. My Department will continue to work hard on the issue of the circular economy, eliminating plastic pollution and tackling throwaway culture. With over five trillion single use plastic bags used worldwide every year and plastic waste set to quadruple by 2050, I would encourage everyone to play their part locally and re-use bags whenever they can.”

In addition to the rise in the levy, Poots also announced an extension to the existing pricing threshold, which will see all bags priced at £5 or less subject to the levy, irrespective of the material they are made from.

Whilst Poots argued that proceeds from the levy would be re-invested into NI’s environmental sector, Retail NI has said he has not thought about the impact on low-income families.

Chief executive of Retail NI, Glyn Roberts, commented: “[We] argued for the current 5p charge to be increased to a more realistic figure of 10p in line with what is being proposed in England and Scotland”

“We believe this excessive 500% increase will disproportionally impact on low-income families at time of huge economic turmoil with Covid-19, high Energy Bills and increases in National Insurance”

“We have asked for an immediate meeting with the Minister to discuss these proposals.”

Earlier this year, Defra increased the charge for plastic bags will increase from 5p to 10p.