Committee Scrutinises Proposed New Increases in Carrier Bag Charges

Synopsis: The Committee for the Environment is now considering the proposed Carrier Bags Bill, which will apply charges to a wider range of carrier bags and increase the amount of the charge.

Session: 2012/2013

Date: 14 June 2013

Reference: ENV 14/12/13

The Committee for the Environment is now considering the proposed Carrier Bags Bill, which will apply charges to a wider range of carrier bags and increase the amount of the charge.

Legislation to charge a levy for carrier bags came into effect in April 2013, when a 5 pence charge was introduced for single-use carrier bags. The proposed Carrier Bags Bill will introduce a 10 pence charge for all single-use carrier bags, as well as for the cheaper versions of reusable carrier bags.

Committee Chairperson Anna Lo said: "Discarded plastic bags can cause real problems for the environment: many end up in landfill and on beaches, causing pollution and problems for wildlife. By increasing the cost of cheaper reusable bags, the Department hopes that shoppers will be more likely to use them again and again rather than treat them as disposable or throwaway.

"While the Committee supports efforts to cut plastic bag usage, it wants to carefully consider the potential consequences of any increase in charges. We want to see how consumers and businesses will be affected. In particular, we will pay close attention to the impact on small retailers, who are worried that an increased charge will put consumers off purchasing just one or two items at a time or making an unplanned purchase, and also about the administration involved. In all this, communication with the public will be vital, and the new pricing arrangements must be made very clear to shoppers.

Ms Lo concluded: "The Committee is committed to encouraging more sustainable shopping habits. Over the coming months, we will scrutinise this legislation to ensure that it strikes a balance between protecting the environment and taking account of the needs of consumers and businesses. We look forward to a robust engagement with the public and stakeholders on the proposals in the Bill."

ENDS

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