Minister Poots – Think before you throw away – bring your own bag; re-use your carrier bag

Date published: 21 February 2022

Environment Minister Edwin Poots MLA has welcomed the launch of a competition by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful to encourage young people and their families to always re-use their carrier bags.

The competition is being promoted by the charity’s Eco-Schools programme, with pupils across Northern Ireland being asked to design a poster which highlights the environmental benefits of reusing all carrier bags as often as possible.

Minister Poots announced in November that the Carrier Bag Levy charge in Northern Ireland will increase from 5 pence to 25 pence from 1 April 2022. In addition to levy increase, the Minister also announced an extension to the existing pricing threshold, which will see all bags priced at £5 or less subject to the levy, irrespective of the material they are made from.  Exemptions to the levy will also be simplified.

Welcoming the launch of the competition, Minister Poots said: “People are still throwing away their carrier bags instead of re-using them, with harmful environmental consequences. We need to make Northern Ireland a cleaner, greener, more pleasant place in which to live and we can go some way towards this by making sure we use and re-use our carrier bags.”  

The Minister continued: “It is unacceptable that far too much plastic ends up as pollution in our environment or waste in our landfills. With over five trillion single use plastic bags used worldwide every year and plastic waste set to quadruple by 2050, it is important that we educate our young people to do all they can to protect and support our environment.”

Charlene McKeown, Environmental Education Manager for Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful is encouraging schools to get involved, “Any momentary convenience carrier bags bring is massively outweighed by the enormous environmental damage they create. It’s hugely important that young people, and indeed families, communities and businesses understand the need to think before you buy and reuse carrier bags rather than purchasing unnecessary bags. This competition is a fun way to get the message across and we look forward to seeing hundreds of creative submissions!’

She continued: ‘Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful receives funding from DAERA and we will continue to use it and all our other sources of funding to bring about greater environmental awareness and ultimately, the urgent behavioural and attitudinal changes that are needed to safeguard the future of our environment and our children.

The competition is open to all Year 4 and Year 9 pupils within the Eco-Schools network and will run from 21 February to 14 March. The two winners, one from each year group, will win an ipad with each of the winning schools receiving a donation.    

Notes to editors: 

  1. For more information on the Eco-Schools Poster Competition please go to Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful
  2. Details on funding can be found at DAERA FUNDING
  3. The Carrier Bag Levy in Northern Ireland applies to ALL bags and not just plastic bags
  4. Northern Ireland now has 100% of schools registered on the Eco-Schools Programme.
  5. Annual validated statistics are available at Northern Ireland carrier bag levy statistics | Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (
  6. Carrier Bag Levy legislation is available at The Single Use Carrier Bags Charge (Amendment and Revocation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2022 (
  7. Eco-Schools educates and empowers young people to make environmental improvements in their lives and the programme is guided by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals which are global targets for a better future for people and the planet. One of these goals focuses specifically on ‘responsible consumption  and production’ as well as encouraging recycling and waste reduction.
  8. DAERA is part of the UK Plastics Pact initiative.
  9. Follow DAERA on Twitter and Facebook.
  10. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office:
  11. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800 hrs and 0800 hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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