The levy began in April 2013 and these are the first set of official figures, regarding the drop in the country’s plastic bag usage.
In the year before the levy was introduced it was estimated that 300m single-use plastic bags were used in Northern Ireland.
The reduction is equal to about 215 million bags, the minister said, announcing that £4.17m raised by the bag levy in the past year had been reinvested in environmental projects.
Mark H Durkan – “The response from shoppers has been very positive and retailers have also risen to the challenge. The result has been a very significant reduction in single use carrier bags”
The £4.17million raised in 2013/14 was spent on environment projects including 250 community lead environment projects through NIEA Challenge Fund, Natural Heritage grants, Sustainability Innovation Fund and Local Clean-up Support projects.
Mark H Durkan, speaking during a visit to Gormley’s Centra, Claudy, said: “The response from shoppers has been very positive and retailers have also risen to the challenge. The result has been a very significant reduction in single use carrier bags.
“During the past year, I have ensured that money from the bag levy has gone back into the community through environmental projects. I have visited many of these projects and have been inspired by the great work being done.
“I am delighted to announce that £2.5m of this year’s levy receipts will be available to support community projects. The community pays the levy and I will ensure that the community gets the benefit of the levy.”
In the second phase of the scheme, an additional five pence charge is set to be added to the price of reusable bags that cost less than 20p from January next year.