Plastic bag levy trader concern

RETAILERS have expressed concern that a proposed new Plastic Bag levy will be detrimental to the environment, add to the red tape burden on retailers and hit struggling working families.

The Northern Ireland Independet Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) made the claim in response to DOE Minister Alex Attwood’s launch of his Plastic Bag Levy Consultation.

Glyn Roberts NIIRTA Chief Executive said: “NIIRTA supports measures to reduce plastic bag use but the proposed levy seems to be poorly thought through. It’s unclear if it is intended to discourage plastic bag use or if it is a revenue raiser. It has to do one or the other – it can’t do both.

“The Department of the Environment has had £4m per year deducted from its budget to fund the Green New Deal, and it is proposed the levy will raise enough money to replace it.

“It appears, therefore, that the levy is intended to be a revenue raiser. Using the levy in this way will send a confusing message to the public. So, essentially, the public is being asked to buy plastic bags, thereby generating waste, in order to tackle waste.”

“We have real concerns that this levy, far from protecting the environment, will actually cause it greater harm as proven in the Republic where more consumers are buying black plastic bin liners (which take 1000 year to biodegrade on landfill) because single use bag usage has dropped.

“It will also put retailers in the position as unofficial tax collectors adding to their operating costs and an already growing red tape burden.

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“A new strategy should be developed by the DOE, working with retailers, environmental groups and packaging companies, which builds upon the voluntary approach of educating customers and avoiding more plastic bags going to landfill.”