A new levy on carrier bags has come into effect in Northern Ireland which means retailers must now charge shoppers at least five pence for each new single-use bag.
The levy applies to each bag rather than each visit to a shop and is intended to reduce the estimated 250 million single use bags used in Northern Ireland each year.
Retailers are required to pass the proceeds of the levy to the Department of Environment each quarter.
Northern Ireland’s Environment Minister, Alex Attwood, said the Department is hoping to see an 80 percent reduction in the use of carrier bags as a result of the levy.
“In Northern Ireland we are using 30,000 carrier bags each and every hour. This levy is intended to help protect the environment by dramatically cutting the number of bags used,” said Attwood.
The levy is not restricted to plastic bags. It also includes paper, starch and other natural materials.
Northern Ireland follows Wales in introducing a levy on single-use bags, with Scotland currently considering a charge. There is currently no tax in England.