Upcoming Changes to the Carrier Bags Levy

December 18, 2014

A Single Use Carrier Bag Charge introduced a minimum charge on new single use carrier bags in April 2013.

Sellers in Northern Ireland were required to charge customers at least 5 pence for each new single use carrier bag. The charge currently applies to all single use carrier bags – made of paper, plant based material, or natural starch – and is not confined to plastic bags.

A further charge is to be introduced in January 2015. The new charge will apply to a wider variety of carrier bags – specifically the cheaper versions of reusable bags. The definition of a carrier bag has been changed by virtue of new legislation and is now defined as a bag of any material supplied or designed for the purpose of enabling goods to be taken away or delivered.The aim is to stop low cost reusable bags becoming ‘throw-away bags’, littering the environment. The 5 pence levy will be extended to all new carrier bags with a retail price of under 20 pence.

In due course the DOE is to prepare a report on biodegradable carrier bags and another on the operation of the charging provisions. The first report will consider whether any biodegradable bags should be exempt from the charge, the criteria for any such exemptions and how exemptions should be implemented. The second report will consider the effectiveness of the charging provisions and whether any amendments to the charging provisions are necessary or desirable. This article has been produced for general information purposes and further advice should be sought from a professional advisor.

Please contact our Planning and Environmental Department at Cleaver Fulton Rankin for further advice or information.

Louise Coll, Assistant Solicitor, Planning and Environmental Department at Cleaver Fulton Rankin Solicitors