"Monitoring" - the Government's new word for inaction on carrier bag charge

Richard Harrington By: Richard Harrington
Date posted: 18 July 2013

Monitoring’ - the Government’s new word for inaction on carrier bag charge The Break the Bag Habit campaign group says there are no credible reasons left for the Government not to introduce a charge on all carrier bags in England.

Monitoring’ - the Government’s new word for inaction on carrier bag charge The Break the Bag Habit campaign group says there are no credible reasons left for the Government not to introduce a charge on all carrier bags in England. Figures released today (Thursday 18th July 2013) show an increase of 4.4% in the use of single-use carrier bags in England, whilst Wales showed a 76% decrease in usage. Wales introduced a charging scheme in October 2011 and the figures released today provide the first full year’s reporting. The scheme applies to all single-use carrier bags regardless of material, with some obvious exceptions, such as small bags required for fresh meat or fish. It reduces unnecessary waste and litter, helping to reduce costly pollution of our seas, countryside and towns. To date, the Englsih Government has done nothing more than say it will ‘monitor’ the scheme in Wales, despite the initiative reporting a significant reduction in bags within the first three months, the popularity of the scheme increasing and people reporting less litter. At the same time, Northern Ireland introduced a scheme in April this year and Scotland has confirmed it will do so in 2014. The Government has also said it is worried about the impact of a charge on households in difficult economic times, however, it is not compulsory to buy a bag, so the charge is easily avoidable through making use of the many inexpensive and robust reusable bags now available. Evidence shows that a Bag for Life used four times has the best environmental impact, so it’s possible for shoppers to find affordable bags they can re-use time and time again. Sue Kinsey from MCS, one of the members of the Break the Bag Habit coalition says: “Surely the Government has now run out of excuses for not bringing in a carrier bag charge in England. These latest figures clearly show that the system works with usage in Wales plunging by 76%. We would again urge the Government to take immediate steps to bring in this effective and popular measure.” Samantha Harding, Break the Bag Habit spokesperson, said:”Today’s figures, showing an increase in bag use in England and a massive decrease in Wales, are resounding evidence for the Government to finally introduce a charge on carrier bags in England. We are now the only nation left not to apply a 5p charge. There is nothing left to monitor, and the facts are beyond doubt. ‘There is clear evidence that the scheme works, is popular with shoppers and isn’t a burden on shop owners. If the Government takes the findings of its own Waste Review seriously - telling us to reduce waste first, before re-use and then recycling - it must support a charge on carrier bags. England cannot be the only home nation not to benefit from such a sensible and effective scheme.’

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