Northern Irish Environment Minister Alex Attwood has launched a 5p charge on single use paper and plastic carrier bags.
Retailers in Northern Ireland must now charge at least 5p for each single use carrier bag on each visit to a shop.
The rule applies to paper, plastic, starch and bags made from other natural materials.
Alex Attwood said: “In Northern Ireland we are using 30,000 carrier bags each and every hour. This levy is intended to help protect the environment by dramatically cutting the number of bags used. Working with the retail sector we are aiming for a reduction of at least 80 per cent. Some retailers have already indicated that they will be eliminating single use bags altogether.
“There is already a high awareness among people here of charging for bags, not least because that is our experience travelling to the Republic of Ireland. I believe we can quickly adjust to the levy. People tell me they are concerned about climate change and want to find ways to make personal, family and local contributions to addressing the threat. The levy is precisely this.”
Retailers are required to pass the proceeds of the levy to the Department of Environment in Northern Ireland each quarter. Proceeds will be used to help business, charities, schools and others to improve the environment.