Bag levy confusion

April 15, 2013

The introduction of the Plastic Bag Levy last week caused minor confusion amongst customers of the Primark store in Newry’s Buttercrane Centre, who expressed their surprise at being charged 5p for the usual paper bags offered in the store. This uncertainty may have stemmed from the fact the levy is not imposed on paper bags in the Republic of Ireland so consumers here in the North may have assumed the same rules applied here.

Upon further investigation of the legislation for the Northern Ireland Plastic Bag Levy, The Examiner confirmed that the charge does in fact relate to all single use carrier bags and is not restricted to plastic bags.  As per legislation from the Department of Environment, the levy includes all bags made of paper, starch and other natural materials, on the grounds that alternatives to plastic bags also have environmental impacts.

However, the levy does not apply to reusable bags and some small paper and plastic bags, such as those used for medicine or hot food.

A Primark spokesperson admitted that having stores on both sides of the border with differing bag regulations may have sparked some confusion but confirmed that the charges in Northern Ireland stores were in line with current bag levy legislation.