Scotland To Introduce Plastic Bag Charge

Scotland is to introduce a plastic bag charge for shoppers by 2014.

Retailers will have to charge a minimum of 5p per bag, as part of a move to reduce carrier bag use.

The move would bring Scotland in line with Northern Ireland, which already has a similar scheme in place.

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead announced the move today.

He said shoppers would be encouraged to reuse carrier bags to cut down on the 750m bags used in Scotland each year.

Regulations will be introduced in the Scottish Parliament in time for businesses to start charging by October 2014.

Richard 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.

"We have seen elsewhere that carrier bag charging has been effective in encouraging people to reuse bags. 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.

"Thousands of Scottish people already use bags for life and some retailers already charge. It is now time, however, for a national effort."

Iain Gulland, Director, Zero Waste Scotland, said: "Zero Waste Scotland supports initiatives that tackle litter and help achieve a zero waste society, so we welcome the Scottish Government’s decision to implement a levy on single use bags.

"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.

"Encouraging the reuse of carrier bags will complement wider action to tackle litter, which will be published later this summer. Moves to cut litter on land, in the sea and river systems will be set out as strategies for consultation."

As in Northern Ireland, some types of bags will be exempt, mainly for health and safety reasons and privacy such as bags for prescriptions, certain fresh foods and unpackaged blades.


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