Plastic bag use continues to drop after 5p levy

Plastic bags
Plastic bags

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

The Department of the Environment (DoE) has reported a 70% 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 generated £4.6 million.

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 levy has also enabled me to fund 21 environmental NGOs and landscape management bodies through the Natural Environment Fund. Given the acute economic situation that I faced, there would have been no money in the DoE budget for this sector.”

The Woodland Trust 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.”