Wales

AMs agree five pence bag charge for shoppers in Wales

Man carrying plastic bags
Image caption Ministers said the charge is enough to change behaviour but not deter shoppers

Plans to introduce a charge for carrier bags in Wales have been approved by assembly members.

From October 2011, a carrier bag will cost five pence. Ministers had originally planned a seven pence charge from next spring.

Environment Minister Jane Davidson said: "The charge delivers an important message about the need for us to live much more sustainable lives."

Shoppers in Wales took home an estimated 350 million bags last year.

Wales is the first country in the UK to introduce a charge as part of its efforts to reduce the volume of carrier bags given out to shoppers.

The assembly government said it believed the charge was high enough to encourage people to change their shopping habits but not so high that it would deter impulse shopping or place a significant burden on shoppers who have forgotten their reusable bags.

Ms Davidson said: "Most of these bags are completely unnecessary.

"They end up cluttering up our cupboards, littering our country or rotting in landfill where they release harmful greenhouse gasses into the environment.

"Whilst I know that reducing our use of single use carrier bags is not going to solve all our environmental problems the charge delivers an important message about the need for us to live much more sustainable lives."

The CBI has said a five pence charge set the right balance between reducing use and not penalising low-income households.

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