North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has welcomed the news that in the first year of the five pence levy on single use carrier bags, usage has dropped by 72%.
Mr McKay secured consent from other political parties to bring in a levy and he introduced the Single Use Carrier Bags Act in the Assembly in 2011.
He said: “The news that the number of single use plastic and paper bags in circulation has fallen by around 215 million (from 300 million to 84.5 million) is fantastic and shows that the levy put in place has indeed changed people’s behaviour and improved environmental outcomes.
“Less bags in circulation also means a tidier countryside and a more pleasant environment for locals and tourists alike.
“My legislation also provided for the collection of the levy and already £2.3million of these proceeds have went to community groups through the Challenge Fund. This includes many groups here in North Antrim and I would encourage all local groups to consider apply for this funding stream for community projects.”