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
    +1

    Comment number 588.

    How will this work with automated tills?

    Regardless, plastic carrier bags are a drop in the ocean compared to all the people driving their car 1 mile just to get to the supermarket and back.

    How about £5 for anyone using their car to get to the supermarket, unless they are elderly or disabled.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 587.

    @586 - actually, the problem is not the disposal, it's the management at the appropriate point in the waste hierarchy. The argument about the purchase of bin liners is fallacious, because many bin liners in the UK nowadays are made from recycled plastic, which was not the case in 2006. Lifecycle Assessments need to be updated to take account of trends, and this one is now based on old data.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 586.

    I completely agree. Supermarkets should promote smaller and creative businesses which make good quality and fashionable bags, so at least people will feel like they are buying something worth the price (5p to 1quid) which can last a life time. they should have small bags, big bags, pocket folding bags, draw on bags etc.

    *Lets create more jobs by going green*

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 585.

    If charging for plastic carrier bags reduces their use, and the objective is to reduce the number of plastic bags being used, then it is a no brainer, even for our politicians.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 584.

    The problem is the disposal of bags not the manufacture. The Env. Agency study on bags showed a C-footprint 130 x larger for a canvas bag manufacture. If you wash the bag the C-footprint is higher. If you purchase black bin liners instead of using supermarket bags you C-footprint is higher. Fine people huge amounts for littering & give them a criminal record so that correct disposal is encouraged.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 583.

    @582 - No they aren't. Most marine litter is dense plastic, not film. Plastic bag litter in the urban environment is a small component by weight - just more visible. Cigarette butts and chewing gum are bigger contributors to litter.

    Properly disposed of? Plastic waste is an inert missed opportunity (it should all be recycled), but no more than this. If recycled? It's a very sustainable material.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 582.

    The land and the oceans are choking in plastic bags. This stuff and all other disposed plastics will be around centuries from now it's already almost too late. In this as in the climate debate profit trumps enviornment. What has Rio + 20 produced? ZERO! The clean up starts with each individual taking personal responsibility. Enacting laws for industry is the hard part because of money interests.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 581.

    I own and mange a plant nursery and we use a lot of plastic bags all of which are made from recycled old plastic bags and whats more they cost us half the price of bags made from new materials. The answer is easy recycle all the old bags some supermarkets are allready doing this and one is now making new bags from the old ones, Councils should be sorting out the recycling of pklastic bags.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 580.

    @Diamond Rush 566 - Not everyone lives in walking distance of a supermarket to be able to walk so do not judge people with very busy lives who do their shopping at Lidl and Aldi to cut costs but nearest one is 2 miles drive so how else am I supposed to carry my shopping?

    They charge enough in the town for parking, don't start on the supermarkets as well.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 579.

    £5 a year?

    This whole debate is too simplistic.
    http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/green-living/plastic-fantastic-carrier-bags-not-ecovillains-after-all-2220129.html

    How often do you have to buy more than you want to bin at home because of supermarket economics.
    Enforce fines for littering

    Add tax to carrier bags so that income goes to government
    not manufacturers & advertisers

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 578.

    @575 - 'I live in Wales & the 5p bag charge does not work.'

    Better tell this to the Welsh Government, because their metrics? Show precisely the opposite. Of all the gains? The CO2 gains are the most modest. The plastic bag tax is to address issues of local environment quality, first and foremost - and also to increase overall awareness. It may be seen as tokenistic - but it has a positive effect.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 577.

    We do pay for plastic bags - they're factored in to the prices we pay at the till.

    There's far more packaging around goods IN the plastic bag than plastic in the bag itself.

    This is just typical petty tokenism by a petty tokenistic nationalist government. Scotland has bigger issues.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 576.

    I support the move, the number of bags which are discarded around the place, flying around and causing danger to animals. I try to remember my shopping bag (an IKEA bag costing 30p) and several strong bags I have bought and I think people should be rewarded in some way for using their own bags.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 575.

    I live in Wales & the 5p bag charge does not work.
    People should be more concerned on the global impact instead of the local impact. The new bags have more plastic & have a bigger CO2 impact.
    The free ones are compact & easy to carry when empty for reuse.
    I now end up using more of the new ones as they can not easily be carried in the pocked.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 574.

    I support this completely. Too many yummy mummies using dozens of plastic bags with their monthly shop.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 573.

    Brilliant idea. When will it be introduced in England. My local Co-op always offers carrier bags. Those who really need them should have to ask.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 572.

    Whilst supporting the idea of eliminating plastic bags by charging for them, I also think that Govt should use similar financial incentives on supermarkets to make them reduce the amount of unnecessary packaging that they fill our bags with every day. Start with fruit and veg - use recycled paper bags - if that affects their shelf life, they should buy from closer to home.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 571.

    It works in Wales. I have spent a lot of time there recently and always remember to take my reusable bags when i go shopping.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 570.

    Well I suppose someone has to combat Global Warming, why not Scotland and the carrier bag? After another climate summit fiasco and inane rhetoric with beautiful semantics about the three pillars of sustainability anything is worth trying.
    What?

    Cuger Brant.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 569.

    My Granny managed with a strong brown leather bag with handles, known in Scotland as a 'message bag.'
    Every Scottish home had at least one of these bags which lasted for ever.

 

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