Environment Minister Edwin Poots has urged the public to join him in the fight against plastic pollution and the throwaway culture.
During the start of the global campaign Plastic Free July, the Minister said people in Northern Ireland could do their bit by taking part in his latest consultation on carrier bags.
“Today marks the start of Plastic Free July which encourages people to refuse single-use plastics so we can tackle plastic pollution in our streets, seas and countryside. I would urge everyone in Northern Ireland to join me in the fight against plastic pollution by responding to our consultation on the carrier bag levy,” explained Minister Poots.
“We are now half way into the consultation period with some 400 responses already showing just how important the environment and this issue is to people. Working together we can help meet the New Decade, New Approach commitment on eliminating plastic pollution. It also underpins the Green Growth framework which I am currently developing.
“My Department continues to work hard on the issue of the circular economy and to 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 everyone in Northern Ireland to act locally but think globally,” he added.
Minister Poots said: "Whilst the existing Carrier Bag Levy has been successful in already removing in excess of 1.5 billion bags from circulation here, 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. So I would encourage stakeholders, industry and the general public who have not already participated to take part and have their say on our consultation which will run until 27 July 2021,” he concluded.
Ian Humphreys Chief Executive of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said: “Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful welcomes this consultation to future proof existing carrier bag legislation. We would encourage people to respond to the consultation to ensure their views are heard.
“As an environmental charity funded by the Department, the existing carrier bag levy has supported the vital work we carry out in order to make Northern Ireland a cleaner and more pleasant place in which to live, including efforts to reduce the production and littering of single-use plastics,” he added.