Northern Ireland could consider bag tax

Northern Ireland's new Environment Minister Edwin Poots has said he will consider introducing a tax on plastic bags similar to the well-established scheme in the republic.

Mr Poots said that if existing voluntary arrangements did not lead to a significant reduction in the use of disposable plastic bags, a mandatory tax might be needed.

The UK’s other devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales have both previously mulled over the plas-tax question, with Wales set to introduce a tariff and Scotland deciding against due to the negative impact it could have on its domestic plastics industry.

Environmental campaigners have urged Mr Poots not to delay, citing the success of the scheme south of the border.

There a 15 cent levy has led to a 90% reduction in the use of disposable plastic bags since 2002.

Ian Humphreys, chief executive of Tidy Northern Ireland, told the Belfast Telegraph: “We would prefer if it was a mandatory levy on plastic bags. We are about changing behaviour and that is an effective way of changing behavior.”

“Plastic bags are seen as something that is free but we pay for it — we just don’t see the cost attached to it. It’s madness letting this go on when we see what happened in the Republic.”

Sam Bond

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