Scottish government plans charge for plastic bags

plastic carrier bags It is hoped the charge will reduce carrier bag use

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The Scottish government has confirmed it will introduce a 5p levy on plastic bags from October 2014.

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said the charge should reduce bag use in Scotland and raise £5m for good causes each year.

There are already charges on carrier bags in Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The business organisation CBI Scotland said the move would mean "costly additional red tape".

Mr Lochhead said: "Discarded carrier bags highlight our throwaway society. We use more carrier bags per head in Scotland than any other part of the UK and this is unsustainable.

"Carrier bags are a highly visible aspect of litter and we are taking decisive action to decrease their number. By reducing the amount being carelessly discarded we can cut litter 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."

Start Quote

If we focus solely on plastic bags we are in danger of being distracted from much larger and more important issues around waste”

End Quote Fiona Moriarty Scottish Retail Consortium

The measure will not raise revenue for the government. Instead, the money raised will go to good causes.

Mr Lochhead added: "This charge is not a tax but will see retailers donating the proceeds to charity - this could be up to £5m per year after retailers have covered their costs."

Iain Gulland, the director of Zero Waste Scotland, said: "We can all reduce the impact of carrier bags by making sure that when we must take one, we re-use it over and over again as many times as possible and then recycle it at the end of its life."

Retailers have expresses their concern about the impact of the charge.

A CBI Scotland spokesman said: "Modest economic growth coupled with a continuing shift to internet shopping is making conditions challenging for the high street, which is already feeling the ill-effects of the Scottish government's £95m retail rates surcharge and its £36m rates levy on empty shops and other premises.

Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead made the announcement at a store in Edinburgh

"The plans for costly additional red tape in the form of an environmental levy on carrier bags, after significant success recently in reducing the use of plastic bags by voluntary means, will only make a difficult situation even tougher for retail businesses."

There was a cautious response from the Scottish Retail Consortium, which claimed carrier bag use has already fallen by 40%.

Director Fiona Moriarty said: "The Scottish government has decided that it wants further and faster reductions and the only way it can achieve this is through legislation.

"However, it is our view that if we focus solely on plastic bags we are in danger of being distracted from much larger and more important issues around waste.

"The SRC will be working with the Scottish government to ensure that the legislation is proportionate and as far as possible consistent across the UK to avoid confusion for customers and businesses."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 233.

    For decades we've been programmed by super markets to use these things! Why can't they offer decent paper brown bags that are re-enforced, I'm sure I've seen these being used in old US movies etc. Firstly their made from recycled materials which can be re-recycled...ECO friendly. Either that or make everything from bio-degradable stuff!

  • rate this

    Comment number 225.

    I work in a charity shop and I always ask customers "have you got your own bag?" rather than "would you like a bag?". This means many people either find space in a bag they're already carrying or are prepared to root for a bag that may have dropped to the bottom of their handbag etc. But I would prefer to see bags charged for as well, some customers still don't care.

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    Smoke and mirrors, plastic bags are environmentally the least worst option if they are just reused as bin bags. The problem of discarded bags has nothing to do with the fact that they are free but down to the attitude of people to their environment and no matter how much you charge then for packaging they will just discard it on the ground. Fine the litters don't tax the responsible shopper.

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    This was introduced in Northern Ireland recently, to everyone's surprise it went unbelievably well. We all now take the reusable bags that we had all bought anyway, out of the car boot and actually use them. It is funny however to see people who wouldn't pay money when this initiative was introduced and to watch them struggling out of shop with items falling everywhere!

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    This is a total pain. Bags are needed to carry stuff. Sure thy're great to reuse if you drive to the supermarket as a special trip (not exactly green!), but for those of us whose life isn't like this is just a tax. And in terms of waste let alone environmental issues as a whole this is a drop in the ocean. Typical out-of touch politicians. Not impressed.


Comments 5 of 11


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