Scotland

Carrier bag charge 'weeks away'

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Media captionScotland follows Wales and Northern Ireland by bringing in a charge

A public awareness campaign is being launched to highlight the imminent carrier bag charge.

From 20 October every retailer in Scotland will charge at least 5p for each new carrier bag they give to shoppers.

MSPs voted to bring in the new regulations to help tackle Scotland's litter problem but the fee is not just for plastic bags.

It will be imposed on carriers made from eco-friendly materials too.

This is the start of a seven-week campaign to alert shoppers to the new fee.

The charge will not just apply to supermarkets, every retailer in Scotland will charge a mandatory minimum 5p for every new carrier bag issued.

Wales became the first part of the UK to introduce a minimum charge for single-use carrier bags in 2011 and a charge was brought in Northern Ireland last year.

The Scottish government said the money raised would go to good causes.

The campaign is urging people to take re-useable bags with them to the shops if they want to avoid the bag charge.

'Wasteful attitude'

When the regulations introducing the charge were approved in June, Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "Scotland uses around 750 million single-use carrier bags a year, each and every year, from supermarkets alone. More per head than anywhere else in these islands.

"It's time to take action to reduce the number of these bags given out. So this is part of our wider work to tackle Scotland's litter problem.

"Carrier bags are a highly visible and damaging part of our litter problem in our communities, by our roadsides and in our seas."

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks welcomed the decision but claimed the number of carrier bags used was even higher.

"Scots now consume a staggering 800 million carrier bags annually and the number is rising," he said. "These figures make clear why introducing a charge for single-use carrier bags is the right decision, and one that we support.

"Single use carrier bags are symbolic of our wasteful attitude to resource use which must be addressed if Scotland's vision of a zero waste future is to be realised.

"The millions of carrier bags used every year squander non-renewable resources, pollute our environment, threaten wildlife and take decades to break down in landfills."

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