Carrier Bag Use 8% Rise 6 July 2012
Eight Per cent increase In carrier bag consumption highlights need for levy– Attwood
Environment Minister Alex Attwood today responded to the announcement of an 8% increase in the number of carrier bags issued in Northern Ireland.The Minister highlighted that the increased use of carrier bags demonstrated the need for a carrier bag levy.
The Minister was speaking following the announcement of the 2011 results of the UK Voluntary Carrier Bag Agreement with the British Retail Consortium (BRC).Across the UK, consumption of single use carrier bags has fallen significantly over the last five years. However the 2011 figures for Northern Ireland show an 8.1% increase in the number of single–use carrier bags issued by major supermarkets over the previous year, equating to an additional 20 million bags.
Alex Attwood said: “I fully acknowledge and welcome the success of voluntary efforts in reducing the number of bags in circulation in Northern Ireland over the last five years. However, these latest figures show that we must not become complacent. In order to sustain the long term downward trend in carrier bag consumption we need to successfully implement the carrier bag levy in Northern Ireland as soon as possible.”The equivalent data for Wales, where a minimum bag charge of five pence was introduced in October 2011, shows a 22% reduction over the same period. If this early trend was sustained, it would equate to around a 90% reduction over a full year of charging. In April 2012, the Minister launched a public consultation seeking views on the subordinate legislation for a five pence levy on single use carrier bags.
The levy is due to be introduced on 8 April 2013. Mr Attwood said: “For some time now, the Department has sought to encourage retailers to act to reduce the number of bags in circulation. As the results over the last five years have shown, this approach has had considerable success. However, we are still consuming around 240 million carrier bags each year. This latest increase demonstrates the need for a carrier bag levy here, if we are to achieve the progress seen in Wales and generate further significant reductions in bag consumption. The introduction of a bag levy will build on the good work of recent years by helping to reinforce behavioural change. This will contribute to making Northern Ireland a greener and cleaner place to live, work and invest.”