Northern Ireland to charge for bags
Shoppers in Northern Ireland will be charged at least 5p for single use bags from 8 April 2013. In addition to plastic bags, the levy will also apply to those made of paper, plant-based material and natural starch. However, no formal charge will apply for bags used for ‘hygiene and food safety’, ‘the protection of both goods and consumers’, or ‘confidentiality in respect to prescription medicines’.
The Northern Ireland Assembly approved proposals for the bag charge. It estimated that 250 million ‘single use carrier bags’ are used in Northern Ireland every year, a figure that is expected to fall by ‘at least 80%’ following the introduction of the levy. The key objective of the carrier bag levy is to reduce or eliminate the unnecessary use of bags, regardless of the material from which they are made. The introduction of charging will help to communicate the wider ‘reduce and reuse’ waste message (Packaging News, 22 January 2013).