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
    -32

    Comment number 115.

    Yes another rip off idea aimed at hitting the already annoyed and highly pressed shopper.

    If it's about the environment then please force the supermarkets to switch (at their own expense) to biodegradable solutions, which can be re-used as bin liners.

    If it's really just another subtle tax then introduce something that hits supermarket profits and bankers instead please.

  • rate this
    -20

    Comment number 101.

    The trouble is in Wales they charge you for a paper carrier bag too!

    The charge all round has caused frustration, anger and in some instances is a rip-off.

  • rate this
    -17

    Comment number 93.

    Wow. I'm actually quite surprised by this.

    There is a problem with excessive plastic being ceaselessly churned out of supermarkets.

    The answer?

    Punish the customer and eliminate drivers for the supermarkets to innovate an alternative.

    Brilliant! So unlike Politician's to come up with myopic ideas that heap more responsibility on the taxpayer with no long term vision.

  • rate this
    -17

    Comment number 126.

    My plastic carrier bag usage in Wales has reduced by 100% since their 5p charge was introduced. I live equidistant between shopping areas on the Welsh-English border and have simply stopped shopping in Wales.

  • rate this
    -15

    Comment number 140.

    Obviously this has been lobbied for by the genuine bin liners manufacturing corporation, what a load of old piffle.

 

Comments 5 of 588

 

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