Plans for 5p plastic bag charge in Scotland

 

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

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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.

 

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  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 568.

    Before the 5p we were told the bags were environmentally safe and would brake down? I may just throw my money in the middle of the floor and let everyone scramble for it.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 567.

    Why not just stop using plastic bags? Give people fair warning of course - unlike ASDA who thought it ok to wait untl you got to the till to tell you you had to buy the thicker reusables (about 3 years ago). And I'm happy to use reusables except in TESCO who automaticly try to collect data about your bag usage without allowing you to opt out of their marketing.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 566.

    If my supermarket starts charging for plastic bags, I hope they will start charging for their car-parking as well. Surely me using two disposable bags to walk back from the nearest supermarket does less damage than someone driving to a supermarket the other side of town but using reusable bags?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 565.

    I'm someone who wants to see much greater action over climate change and the environment.

    But the maths shows this will have a near non-exitent effect on the issues of the environment. Insignificant CO2 contribution.

    The turtles eating plastic bags are still just encountering those from 25 years ago. A 5p for customer rewards those making the bags.

    Much larger issues on packaging to fix!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 564.

    I am not that old, but growing up if we went to the shops, even the supermarket, we took our own shopping bags. I remember my mum's wheelie basket well. I still have and use the basket that I bought 20 years ago when living in France to use when shopping in the market. If I am just going out then I have a small bag which folds up in my pocket. Plastic bags are not necessary.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 563.

    In Switzerland, you buy paper bags at the supermarket, and these are extremely strong and last for a long time( even in the rain). A good alternative to plastic bags.
    I'm all for charging for plastic bags as I have used reusable bags for years now. Also i used to work in a supermarket and was dismayed at how many plastic bags some customers would use, some people would only put 1/ 2 items per bag

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 562.

    I wonder if the people who find it "too much hassle' to re-use their own bags when they go shopping are the same people who complain it is "too complicated" to sort their household waste into different bins for recycling. I find both very easy indeed. It's amazing how dumb and/or weak people can claim to be when it suits their agenda.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 561.

    @ Ciaran Donnelly (492) who writes -

    " I may even take more just to wind them up! 20 bags = £1, £1 a week to annoy lefties is a bargain!"

    That's the spirit – I can't believe so many tight wads are worried about saving a few pence on their shopping. Could plastic bags become a status symbol? Might they even become a symbol of cool defiance like sunglasses or a leather jacket?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 560.

    Its worked fine here in Wales and I dont know of ANY campaign to scrap it.

    Just get on and do it....

    Why does Scotland take so long with some issues, like the Independence referendum? Hold the referendum and get the uncertainty out of the way. If Salmond thinks he can win, why the delay?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 559.

    @540 Its all a shambles. That U Tube film was excellent and very thought invoking. Thanks for that.

    @All, I don't pay for bags I steal them and then shoplift all the stuff I want. In the riots I get my electrical goods that I run from an illegal wire into my neighbours house. I drink water from public urinals and live in a house made of plastic bags and cardboard. I am the tomorrow man.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 558.

    @550 wulk the first valid reason against such a charge. as with any rule there is a case for an exemption.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 557.

    I currently pay 10p at Waitrose. But they are big, strong bags and well worth it. In order to re-use, i need at least 10 bags spread over home, work, cars, but i still need to use the free Tesco ones when I impulse buy from the store in town, as I don't carry empty bags in my pockets.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 556.

    @555. 5p is an irrelevance - it should be 50 pence per bag

    Presumably then black sacks and bin-liners will also have to cost the same to 'prevent' shoppers simply buying a pack of these to use instead of carrier bags?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 555.

    5p is an irrelevance - it should be 50 pence per bag

    and if that does not make a radical difference it should be raised to £1 a bag, and continue to be raised till eventually the price of a bag will reach a point where even the most intransigent will think twice.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 554.

    In the last 30 years I've used any of 5 or 6 woven nylon shopping-bags that I darn with my Bernina every 3 or 4 years when bits of them become threadbare, and in the last 15 years I've also used an upright 2-wheel cart that at the end of a shopping task I put into my car with no need to decant.

    Among the commodities offered by our lazy "economic" nonsystem, common sense is one of the rarest.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 553.

    @548 I refer you to my earlier post the environmental lobby serves only as a vehicle for the sanctimonious to lecture others. Thank you for an excellent demonstration.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 552.

    520. Ciaran Donnelly
    35 MINUTES AGO
    I said buying extra plastic bags, so the trolley is full will wind up any sanctimonious lefties in the store. I couldn't care less about the government or what charity is current flavour of the month.

    Winding up the lefties and the hippies is worth every penny.




    Are you the secret lovechild of Jeremy Clarkson and Eric Cartman?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 551.

    I wonder if the outcome of this 'initiative' will be declared before or after the referendum on further devolution?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 550.

    5p tax to reduce litter and pollution - sounds fine. But, what about people like me; a disabled, housebound, pensioner? I do all my shopping via the internet. My weekly groceries come in plastic bags, am I pay an extra 5p per bag? Note: All the bags are returned on the next delivery.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 549.

    This "initiative" seems to occur every couple of years.

    "£5m per year after covering costs" ???

    20 million housholds in the UK, average weekly shop uses 5 bags, 52 weeks in a year = £265 million. That's an extra income for the supermarkets of £260 million.

    I wonder whose idea this was?

 

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