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Proposal to double Northern Ireland bag tax triggers retailer ire

By: Anthony Clark
PLASTICS & RUBBER WEEKLY

August 23, 2013

There are early indications of a significant reduction in the number of single-use carrier bags handed out in Northern Ireland as a result of a 5 pence charge for plastic bags.

Figures from several major supermarkets point towards a possible annual reduction of well in excess of 80 percent in those stores, according to a statement from the Northern Irish Assembly. This has led ministers to consider increasing the levy by as much as double.

However, Glyn Roberts, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA), has called upon the department of the environment's Mark H. Durkin to withdraw plans to increase the levy to 10 pence.

"If according to the minister this levy is so successful at 5 pence per bag then clearly there is no need to raise it to 10 pence, which will create even more expense for hard-pressed consumers," said Roberts.

"NIIRTA would urge minister Durkin to consider moving to the Welsh system where local retailers decide on what local projects the levy raised from their own store will benefit."

Under the current legislation in Northern Ireland, retailers are required to pay the net proceeds of the levy to the government.