The bag levy which came into operation in Northern Ireland one year ago yesterday is thought to have generated £4m of receipts in its first year of operation.
Proceeds from the charges – at least five pence for each single-use carrier bag – are forwarded to the Department of the Environment (DoE).
Last night a DoE spokesman said returns for the final quarter are due at the end of this month, but it is expecting to bring the figure to about £4m.
He said the levy has been well received by both customers and retailers and revenue from the levy is “used to support a range of local environmental programmes at community level”.
The Environmental Challenge Fund for 2014 was allocated £2.3m.
The direct grant to communities and schools is intended to “develop and deliver over 251 inspiring projects from allotments to red squirrels to heritage trails and more”.
DoE minister Mark Durkan also allocated an additional £600,000 to support non-governmental organisations on a range of local conservation projects and a further £300,000 to help tackle fly-tipping in both urban and rural areas.
A further £200,000 was provided for a Sustainability Innovation Fund, to help businesses with practical measures on resource efficiency and climate change.