A mandatory charge for carrier bags will be imposed on retailers in Northern Ireland next year.

Confirmation of the plans was given yesterday by legislators in the province. A 5p charge for single-use carrier bags will now come into effect in 2013, rising the following year to 10p a bag. Multiple-use bags will also be charged at 10p a bag.

“We are in favour of reducing the amount of carrier bag waste across the UK to help the environment, but there are already a number of local shops in Northern Ireland who have introduced voluntary charging and incentive schemes to achieve this outcome,” said James Lowman of the Association of Convenience Stores.

“This unnecessary tax on consumers threatens to alienate communities who shop locally on a regular basis and places more regulatory burdens on hard working retailers who are already stretched to the limit.”