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Packaging News : Retailer fury as Stormont fast-tracks 15p bag tax pla

Date: Thu, 3 Mar 2011

The Single Use Plastic Bags Bill, tabled by Sinn Fein’s Daithi McKay, is set to form part of a Budget blueprint that has been agreed by the DUP and Sinn [...]

 

Supermarkets have blasted Northern Irish plans for a 15p tax on plastic bags after Stormont fast-tracked legislation late on Monday night to impose the charge.

 

 

The Single Use Plastic Bags Bill, tabled by Sinn Fein’s Daithi McKay, is set to form part of a Budget blueprint that has been agreed by the DUP and Sinn Fein.

 

 

Under the plans, retailers would be forced to charge a 15p tax for each single-use bag distributed. The bill’s supporters have said that it would help reduce bag use and raise revenue.

 

 

But retail leaders have described the plans as “ill-conceived” and “contradictory”, and have argued that consumers would end up treating heavier bags for life as disposable single-use carriers if the charge was set at the 15p level.

 

 

The bill’s passage through Stormont came just a week after the Environment Agency was forced to publish research commissioned in 2005 that showed single-use carrier bags had the lowest carbon impact of any type of carrier bag under most circumstances.

 

 

‘No proper thought’

 

 

British Retail Consortium head of environment Bob Gordon said: “This levy on bags has been rushed through without proper thought. It’s actually about raising revenue, not helping the planet.

 

 

“Retailers and consumers have significantly reduced the number of plastic bags being used in Northern Ireland. This levy doesn’t support these efforts. Instead it penalises businesses and customers during a difficult financial period.

 

 

“The levy is contradictory. The Assembly cannot both reduce the use of bags and raise revenue from the taxation of bags – if one aim succeeds, the other must fail. The risk is that a charge may be introduced that doesn’t raise any revenue for the Green Deal but increases the environmental impact of getting our shopping home.”

 

 

“If the Northern Ireland Executive is determined to go ahead with this ill-conceived tax then it should draw on the detailed consultative process in Wales and adopt the same approach. Businesses should only have to cope with one bag taxation system.”

 

 

Wales is planning to introduce a 5p tax on single-use carrier bags from October this year.

 

 

‘Dangerous’

 

 

Glyn Roberts of the Northern Ireland Independent retail Trade Association told the Belfast Telegraph: “I am very disappointed that the Assembly has decided to rush this legislation.“There should have been proper scrutiny. Whilst we support the objective of reducing the plastic in landfill, we are concerned at how the Assembly has handled this.

 

 

“This is the Assembly’s first new tax. To introduce it without adequate scrutiny is a dangerous precedent.”

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