Plastic bag charge to double to 10p from April in Scotland

Image source, PA Media

The minimum cost of carrier bags in Scotland is set to double to 10p from 1 April.

The Scottish government has said it is important to increase the charge periodically to encourage the use of reusable options instead.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said the move was to deter the use of single-use plastic bags.

The 5p charge was introduced in 2014, with plastic bag usage dropping by 80% by the following year.

Ms Cunningham said: "Thanks to the people of Scotland, the introduction of the charge has been successful in reducing the amount of single-use carrier bags in circulation.

"While the 5p bag charge was suitable when it was first introduced, it is important that pricing is updated to ensure that the charge continues to be a factor in making people think twice about using a single-use carrier bag."

Some retailers have pledged to donate their carrier bag charges to good causes, with £2.5m raised in 2019.

Prior to the charge being introduced in 2014, 800 million single use carrier bags were issued annually in Scotland.

By 2015 this fell by 80% with the Marine Conservation Society noting in 2016 that the number of plastic carrier bags being found on Scotland's beaches dropped by 40% two years in a row with a further drop of 42% recorded between 2018 and 2019.

Image source, Getty Images

Keep Scotland Beautiful chief executive Barry Fisher said: "Since 2014 the single use carrier bag charge has significantly helped reduce the number of bags being given out by retailers - saving thousands of tonnes of single use plastic realising a significant net carbon saving and reducing the chances of these items becoming littered.

"However, there is still an opportunity to challenge individual behaviours and improve consumer awareness which the doubling of the charge will help do.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Scottish government is looking into creating an exemption on the bag charge for certain deliveries and collections, as was the case last year at the onset of the pubic health crisis.