08/12/2011

'NI Favours In-store Bag Levy': Attwood

There's 'bags of support' for the introduction of a charge being made on plastic carrier bags.

An independent survey carried out on behalf of the Department of Environment (DOE) suggests substantial support for the introduction of a levy on carrier bags.

Local market research company, Millward Brown Ulster, polled 200 businesses and over 1,000 adults. In response, many businesses and 66% of consumers said they would welcome such a levy.

Confirming the findings today, Stormont Environment Minister Alex Attwood said: "The survey results suggest significant support for a carrier bag levy. I am especially encouraged by the fact that so many respondents recognised the very positive impact it would have on the environment."

When asked about possible drawbacks from the proposal, 42% of businesses identified additional charges for their customers during a period of recession - while 46% of consumers expressed concern at the prospect of having to buy bags.

SDLP Minister Attwood (pictured) said: "While there is an extremely positive message emerging from this survey, I am also very aware of these concerns.

"I want to ensure that the levy will not only improve our environment, but also bring about benefits for both businesses and consumers. Businesses can make real savings through reduced purchase of bags.
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"Consumers can avoid the charge by bringing their own bags when shopping, many have already adopted this practice," he added.

Meanwhile, Alex Attwood has separately welcomed figures, which show that biodegradable municipal waste collected by Councils in 2010/11 has fallen by 9% compared to last year.

This is the biggest drop between comparable years since records began in 2005/06.

This was partly due to a reduction of 1.9% in the amount of municipal waste collected by Councils in NI and a 5.6% increase in the amount of municipal waste recycled or composted.

Household waste makes up over 88% of the municipal waste and, whilst the amount of household waste collected effectively remained unchanged there was a 1.8 percentage point rise in its recycling (including composting) rate.

Alex Attwood said: "It is particularly important to reduce biodegradable waste as this has the biggest impact on our environment. This large drop demonstrates the efforts that both householders, through changes to their attitudes towards waste, and local councils, through provision of recycling programmes and facilities, have made.

"I am pleased to note that DOE has been involved on both fronts through the Rethink waste advertising campaign and the associated Rethink Waste Funds.

"This year's Northern Ireland Municipal Waste Management Statistics and Landfill Allowance Scheme Reports provides me with a high level of confidence that Councils will meet both the Northern Ireland Landfill Allowance Scheme and EU landfill diversion targets."

(BMcC/GK)

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