Plans for 5p plastic bag charge in Scotland


Plastic bag use in Wales has been significantly reduced since a scheme was introduced last year

Related Stories

Shoppers would need to pay a minimum of 5p for a plastic carrier bag under proposals being put out to consultation by the Scottish government.

The charge is among a range of suggestions aimed at cutting litter and protecting the environment.

The plans are similar to the system brought in by the Welsh government in October.

Early results from Wales show reductions in carrier bag use of up to 90% in some supermarket chains.

The three-month Scottish consultation, which will launch on Wednesday, is part of an SNP manifesto commitment to "seek to phase out free plastic bags in supermarkets".

The consultation will cover the following proposals:

  • A requirement for all retailers to charge
  • This includes all thin gauge/disposable carrier bags, regardless of material
  • Setting the minimum charge at 5p

The Scottish government will seek the public's views on how best to encourage people to re-use plastic bags. It believes a bag charge could raise up to £5m every year, which would be donated to charities.

'Good causes'

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "Carrier bags are a highly visible aspect of litter. By reducing the amount being carelessly discarded we can cut waste and its impact on our environment and economy. A small charge should also encourage us all to stop and think about what we discard and what can be re-used.

"This initiative will see retailers donating the proceeds to charitable good causes. It is hoped this could be up to £5m per year after retailers have covered their costs."

Scottish Green MSP Alison Johnstone said: "The evidence from Wales is that a small charge is easy to implement and has a huge impact on shopper's behaviour, which can only be a good thing for litter in our towns and for our wildlife, seas and beaches.

"Countries as diverse as Rwanda, Italy and Bangladesh have gone even further and have an outright ban on certain plastic bags because they recognise the negative impact that they are having.

"I ask those who oppose this policy to question whether there is such a thing as a free plastic bag. And who picks up the bill for littered cities and polluted seas?"

'Handed incentives'

But Scottish Conservative environment spokesman Jamie McGrigor said: "Scotland is a very wet country, particularly in the west, and using other types of carrier bag just isn't practical in the way it is in other European countries.

"People will feel that, after spending a significant amount of money on their weekly shop, this is just another expense.

"Somebody will be making good money out of this, because the production cost of a plastic bag won't be anything like 5p.

"I'm all for people reusing more sustainable bags, but my view is people who do should be handed incentives, rather than bringing punishment to those who do not."

The Republic of Ireland introduced a charge of 15 euro cents (12p) per bag in March 2002, which led to a 95% reduction in plastic bag litter. Within a year, 90% of shoppers were using long-life bags.


More on This Story

Related Stories


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 288.

    In France you have no choice. They just don't give plastic bags in supermarkets anymore. Either you bring your own shopping bag or you buy one at the supermarket - most shoppers take their own cloth bags or trolleys. Simple!

  • rate this

    Comment number 287.

    I live in Guangzhou, China and all the shops have a minimum charge of 3p per bag. In addition plastic bags are behind the counter and you must ask for them. Now I see people avoiding plastic bags and either re-using them or making do without. Its an effective way of doing things and people may hate the idea of paying for a bag but in the long run 3p can make the world a little bit better.

  • rate this

    Comment number 286.

    This is nothing to with the environment, and everything to do with lining the pockets of the elites, the corporations and politicians.
    Go into a Supermarket, buy your weekly shop, then refuse to buy a bag and carry your groceries out to the car one at a time. they'll soon give you free bags.
    better still, buy from small/ local shops, farmers markets or grow your own.

  • rate this

    Comment number 285.

    Will the carrier bag taxes have to be processed through an off-shore K2 loans system based in Jersey?

  • rate this

    Comment number 284.

    I am in full agreement with this scheme. A little bit of thought before you go shopping would save thousands of the plastic bags which litter our streeets. Pity they can't do something about the Charity bags which cascade through my letterbox at the rate of 4 a week

  • rate this

    Comment number 283.

    So Scotland has been reduced to a testing ground for England.

    Minimum pricing , charging for plastic bags, perhaps a Rangers free SPL could test out goal line technology (though I doubt we'd be able to gather enough data.)

  • rate this

    Comment number 282.


    83. fuzzy
    bin liners??!
    Well, yeah, that may be the best solution. But aren't bin liners a form of consumption? We used to have metal (galvanised?) dust bins 1/3 the size of wheely bins (for a family of 7 too) with no liner, so why bother with a liner now? And aren't all these new fangled bins and boxes a form of polution in themselves?! Mad world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 281.

    We keep three or four shopping bags (usually canvas) of our own in the car so that whenever we shop there's a bag available. Haven't used shop-provided plastic bags for years now. Easy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 280.

    Charging for convienience or pleasure doesn't work. The smoking ban is a prime example. All it does is put people on the dole.

  • rate this

    Comment number 279.

    My supermarket offers the stronger reusable type of carrier bag and charges 5p each, I think most other supermarkets do the same. I initially bought ten of them about two years ago and am still using the same ones. When the bag breaks they can be replaced free of charge. Surely this is a suitable alternative. As for bin liners I try and buy the biodegradable ones where possible.

  • rate this

    Comment number 278.

    245 tyltm

    The arrogance of convenience. What do you line your bin with? a bin liner! arguing that you should get free carrier bagsfrom the supermarket toline you bin with is not a great one! only food waste need reallygo in a bin liner most of the other packagingshould go straight in recycle bin so paying out a small amount for bin liners would be nothing!

    Get my binliners free off the council.

  • rate this

    Comment number 277.

    This really is for the people of Scotland to decide but I really hope it doesnt come to England. For most grocery shopping I take re-usable bags as I get points for their use. For ad hoc grocery I take the ones provided by supermarkets as I re-use them as bin bags. I really see no reason why the State should force me to pay extra. The State has bigger issues to solve.

  • rate this

    Comment number 276.

    Why are we still using plastic bags anyway? Just make them illegal and use more environmental materials (but still charge for their purchase). It's the lazy muppets who turn up at a supermarket checkout after all these years and require 6 plastic bags because they are too lazy to use re-useable bags.

  • rate this

    Comment number 275.

    "Carrier bags are a highly visible aspect of litter. "
    Exactly and thats why they are targeted.
    As superficial as the politicians brains.

    Being GREEN & P.C is a very self righteous replacement religion.
    China can do it, ( Sadly we White folks can ) why not Asia & Africa ?
    Stop importation of 200,0000 people into the country BE GREEN

  • rate this

    Comment number 274.

    I have more fast food advertising leaflets put through my letterbox in one day than most people use plastic bags in one week, along with the rest of the junk mail and charity plastic clothing bags, my bin must be 25% contents of items I didn't want in the 1st place, the remaining is the actual goods packaging, and the odd plastic bag.

  • rate this

    Comment number 273.

    @254 True Brit
    If you change your Tesco options online you can opt to have your groceries delivered without bags. You get extra 'green' club points for doing this. Tesco are the only online retailer to do this, Sainsburys, Ocado etc do not.

    Tescos have offered a bagless service for about 5 years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 272.

    6 Minutes ago
    It's cute how Scotland and Wales think they have real Governments. Using powers like this basically just for something to do.

    Keep at it boys, you're doing a fantastic job.
    England is the only country that does not have a government

  • rate this

    Comment number 271.

    @256 Fuzzy

    I seem to remember using a shopping basket to put all my fruit and veg in to get it to the til back in the days when greengrocers shops still existed.

    Alternatives are the good old-fashioned brown paper bag - can be re-used at least once if careful and is bio-degradeable once worn out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 270.

    fuel duty,, tax on alcohol and cigarettes didn't stop people from using them,,,, oil companies are tearing this world apart and our government is asking us to pay taxes to save the planet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 269.

    Tick box on your on-line shopping order? In our neighbourhood we have to spectical of neighbours try to outdo one another with which supermarket they get their home delivery. It started off with one with Tesco's, the the others did, so they upgraded to Sainsbury's, the others followed, so upgraded to Waitrose etc and now we have M&S. Good Ole 'oneupmanship' at its worse aaannd all in bags !!!


Page 16 of 30


More Scotland stories



Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.