02February2023

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NI Retailers Should Now Register to Pay the Carrier Bag Levy Attwood

Retailers who have received their registration letters from the Department should complete their registration online using the log in details supplied in their letter. Any retailer who has not received a registration letter should firstly confirm with their head office or accounts section whether their store has been included as part of a single company wide return. If not they should call 0300 200 7879.

There is less than three weeks to go before the introduction of the new Carrier Bag Levy on 8 April when retailers and businesses in Northern Ireland must charge at least five pence for each new single use carrier bag they supply to customers.

Registering online from today will make it easy for businesses and retailers to pay the proceeds of the five pence levy to the Department of the Environment later in the year.

Minister Attwood met the first business to register online, Eurospar Creightons of Finaghy in Belfast.

He said: "My Department is keen to work with retailers in keeping administration of the levy as simple as possible. I believe this can be achieved and I urge all to embrace it. Once they have registered their business online, retailers will only be asked to provide information to the Department every three months and completing the required online return should only take a few minutes.

"We will continue to work closely with and build relationships across the retail sector to ensure that the Carrier Bag Levy becomes an integral part of Northern Ireland's waste management strategy."

Referring to the important environmental message behind the Carrier Bag Levy, Alex Attwood said: "In Northern Ireland around 250 million carrier bags are used every year – that is five million a week, 700,000 a day and 30,000 an hour. This levy is intended to reduce their environmental damage by cutting the number of bags used.

"Charges elsewhere have been a very successful way of substantially cutting bag use. Working with the retail industry we should aim for a reduction of at least 80%."

The levy will apply to the majority of new single use carrier bags, regardless of the material from which the bag is made (the levy applies to all new single use bags made from plastic, paper and other natural materials). There will be practical exemptions – on the grounds of patient confidentiality, hygiene and food safety, and when a bag is essential to protect goods or consumers.

Exemptions include bags manufactured for reuse, some small paper and small plastic bags (e.g. for pick & mix, greeting cards, cough mixture, etc.), bags used to carry hot food and hot drinks to be consumed away from the retail premises, bags used to carry prescription medicines and bags used solely to contain packaged uncooked meat, poultry or fish (provided they don't exceed the maximum dimensions in the legislation).

Shoppers won't have to pay the levy when they reuse carrier bags.

Under the new legislation retailers and businesses will be required to pass the proceeds of the levy to the Department of the Environment on a quarterly basis. The levy will be administered by the Department's Carrier Bag Levy Team and money raised will help fund environmental programmes and activities.

John McDowell, Parliamentary Spokesperson for the National Federation of Retail Newsagents Northern Ireland said: "The introduction of a Carrier Bag Levy is something we proposed to the Department of the Environment some nine years ago and we are very supportive of its introduction at this time."

"The introduction of the Levy will lead to significant cost savings for our members which will greatly outweigh any administrative costs incurred as well as contributing to waste management and environmental strategies."

To avoid paying the levy altogether, consumers should always bring their own bags when shopping. Whether it's a 'bag for life', a canvas bag, or just an ordinary plastic carrier bag, it all helps the environment by using less raw materials, reducing carbon emissions and reducing air and water pollution.

The Department has produced two short innovative animated videos to provide both the public and retailers with key information about the Carrier Bag Levy. The video for the public explains the environmental reasons behind the introduction of the levy as well as giving details about bag exemptions, and tips on getting a good bag habit.

Source: Northern Ireland Executive - NI Retailers Should Now Register to Pay the Carrier Bag Levy Attwood