Plastic bag use plummets in wake of levy being introduced

Environment minister Mark H Durkan and Patrick Cregg, director, Woodland Trust NI, at Brackfield Wood.
Environment minister Mark H Durkan and Patrick Cregg, director, Woodland Trust NI, at Brackfield Wood.

The use of plastic bags in Northern Ireland has continued to fall since the introduction of a five pence levy.

On Thursday morning, the Department of the Environment (DoE) reported a 70 per cent drop, with retailers handing out 208.5 million fewer single use carrier bags during 2014/15 than two years ago.

A levy, introduced in April 2013, has so far generated £4.6m.

Environment minister Mark H Durkan said the revenue had been used to help 150 community projects.

He said: “The response from shoppers again has been very positive and retailers continue to rise to the challenge. I commend them for that.”

The Woodland Trust, headed by Pat Cregg, used money from the plastic bag levy to finance its Brackfield Wood project – a 40,000-tree commemorative wood in memory of Irish people killed during the two World Wars.

Mr Durkan added: “People pay the levy and I will continue to ensure that people get the benefit of the levy.”