Northern Ireland is set to follow in the footsteps of Wales by introducing a 5p carrier bag levy on all single use plastic bags handed out from April 2013, and to ensure the operation runs smoothly, an entire team of staff has been dedicated to ensure that sellers implement the ‘bag tax’ regulation effectively.
The responsibilities of the Londonderry based Carrier Bag Levy Team (CBLT), will include looking after the collection of the levy, ensuring retailers comply with the new regulations by paying the proceeds the Department of Environment on time, and investigating any sellers thought to be breaching the regulation.
Anyone found to be in breach of the carrier bag levy could be subjected to “civil sanctions” and a range of monetary penalties “of up to £20,000 or, in certain cases, 10% of the outstanding monetary payment (whichever is the larger).”
Breaches of the levy include failure to charge for carrier bags that fall within the scope of the legislation, failure to keep accurate records, and failure to pay the levy revenue to the Department of Environment within the stipulated timeframe.
Speaking after the announcement of the 2011 figures of the UK Voluntary Carrier Bag Agreement, which showed an 8.1% increase in the number of single-use plastic carrier bags issued in Northern Ireland in 2011, Minister Alex Attwood said, “I fully acknowledge and welcome the success of voluntary efforts” but, “In order to sustain a long term downward trend in carrier bag consumption we need to successfully implement the carrier bag levy in Northern Ireland as soon as possible.”
All Northern Irish retailers will be required to register as ‘sellers of carrier bags’ with the department before the levy comes into effect on 1st April 2013, and collection of the proceeds will be undertaken on a quarterly basis via an online payment system.