Poots welcomes release of NI Carrier Bag Levy statistics

Environment Minister Edwin Poots MLA today welcomed the release of the 8th annual Carrier Bag Levy statistics for Northern Ireland. The Carrier bag levy annual statistics 2020/21 shows that 56.2 million carrier bags were dispensed by retailers under the levy in Northern Ireland between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021. This was 30.2% lower than the previous year, with 24.3 million fewer bags dispensed. The proceeds of the carrier bag levy, which was introduced in Northern Ireland in 2013, totalled £2.2 million, a decrease of £2.2m (50.5%) from the previous year. This was in part due to the levy being waived for home delivery of groceries between 1 April 2020 and 30 September 2020 to manage challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.

By Edwin Poots MLA

Belfast South

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Welcoming the figures, Minister Poots said: “Since the release of the last Carrier Bag Levy statistics we have witnessed an unprecedented year, with Covid-19 impacting on both our personal and business lives. We have faced many challenges in how and where we shop and access retail services, however it is very positive to report the removal of over 1.7 billion bags from circulation across Northern Ireland in the past year. I also welcome the fact that there has been an overall 30.2 % decrease in usage from last year, this reduction demonstrates that despite other challenges, people in Northern Ireland are aware of the damage plastic does to our environment. However, there is much more that can be done.”

The Minister continued, “While year-on-year usage continues to decline, I am concerned at the volume of heavy duty bags that are now flooding the NI retail sector. These heavy duty bags have become the new “throw away” bag and it is important that we take steps to manage their environmentally detrimental consequences. My Department has recently completed an 8-week public consultation aimed at strengthening and future proofing the NI Carrier Bag legislation and officials are currently collating the responses. I propose to bring forward revised Carrier Bag legislation within this current assembly mandate”

The Minister concluded, It is unacceptable that far too much plastic ends up as pollution in our environment or waste in our landfills. My Department continues to work on a number of key environmental policy areas including meeting the New Decade, New Approach commitment on eliminating plastic pollution and the Green Growth framework, which is currently under development. We remain focused on the circular economy, tackling the “throwaway” culture and the development of an NI specific Environment Strategy. Whilst I welcome today’s report, we can always do more and I urge everyone in Northern Ireland to do their bit and re-use bags whenever they can.”

Notes to editors:

  1. The Carrier Bag Levy in Northern Ireland applies to ALL bags and not just plastic bags
  2. Annual validated statistics are available at Northern Ireland carrier bag levy statistics
  3. Carrier Bag Levy legislation is available at Single Use Carrier Bags Charge Regulations (NI) 2013 and Carrier Bags Act NI 2014
  4. DAERA is part of the UK Plastics Pact initiative

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