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Northern Ireland to Introduce Single Use Bag Tax from 8th April 2013

From 8 April 2013, everyone will be a charged at least 5p for new single use carrier bags whenever they shop in Northern Ireland. The main aim is to help protect the environment by cutting the number of carrier bags we use.

It’s not just plastic bags

Single use carrier bags can be made from:

  • plastic
  • paper
  • plant based material such as starch

As paper bags and other alternatives to plastic bags can be equally damaging to the environment, from 8 April 2013 the carrier bag levy will apply to all single use carrier bags – not just plastic bags.

When will the charge apply?

Customers will be charged for single use carrier bags when:

  • they buy things like groceries or clothing
  • goods need to be delivered, for example when you are buying from the internet

Some retailers offer customers the option of purchasing re-usable carrier bags and they can decide how much they will charge for these.

When will the charge not apply?

If you are buying a service, for example, shoe repair or laundry, the service will not be subject to the levy. However, if you buy goods such as shoe polish or cleaning products from the service provider then the charge will apply.

The levy will not apply if the goods are not sold, for instance if a single use carrier bag is used for promotional or free items such as catalogues, samples and leaflets.

Also, certain types of single use carrier bags will be exempt from the levy:

  • bags used to contain take-away hot food and drinks
  • bags used solely to contain certain items such as unpackaged food, seeds and bulbs, axes/ knives/ razor blades, goods contaminated by soil and some medicinal products
  • if goods are purchased in an airport before you  clear security you will be charged for a bag, but there will be no charge for bags in the departure lounge
  • bags of a certain size used solely to contain packaged uncooked meat or fish
  • certain types of small bags (these can always be supplied free of charge)
  • specialist bags such as mail order dispatch and courier bags

Retailers’ responsibilities

From 8 April 2013 retailers will, when applicable:

  • charge customers at least 5p for each new single use carrier bag
  • pay the net proceeds of the levy to the Department of the Environment (DOE)

Further information about the Levy and especially information for retailers can be found on the Northern Ireland Assembly website, at  http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/carrier-bag-levy


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