Plans for a plastic bag charge for England announced

Richard Harrington By: Richard Harrington
Date posted: 14 September 2013

Plans for a plastic bag charge for England announced MCS is pleased to announce some excellent news.

Plans for a plastic bag charge for England announced MCS is pleased to announce some excellent news. After several years of hard work to gain action to reduce the number of single-use carrier bags in use, and in the environment, the Government has announce that a charge will be made on plastic bags for retailers in England. This is great news! But while we think the announcment of a 5p charge for single use carrier bags in England is a great step forward, MCS says questions must be asked as to how wide ranging it will be due to delays and restrictions. Nick Clegg’s announcement indicates that the charge won’t come in until after the next election in 2015 and when it does it will only be in stores employing over 250 people - meaning many smaller shops will be slipping through the net and millions of plastic bags will still end up in the environment. This means that the carrier bag charge in England will not be run in the same way as it is in Wales and Northern Ireland - and in Scotland, where it will begin next year. While Wales saw a 76% reduction in single-use carrier bags in 2012, in England there was a 4.4% rise in the same time period, and, in total, more than eight billion bags were handed out - more than 254 per second. While Wales saw a 76% reduction in single-use carrier bags in 2012, in England there was a 4.4% rise in the same time period, and, in total, more than eight billion bags were handed out - more than 254 per second. MCS, as part of the Break The Bag Habit coalition, (with Campaign to Protect of Rural England, Keep Britain Tidy, Surfers Against Sewage, along with Thames 21 and Greener Upon Thames), has long been urging the government to follow the example of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and introduce a charge on all single-use carrier bags. “We believe that the introduction of a bag charge in England is good news for the environment and will lead to a reduction in the number of carrier bags that litter the nation’s streets, countryside and beaches and have a significant impact on the marine environment”, says Dr Sue Kinsey, Pollution Policy Officer. “We are delighted that the government has finally listened to the thousands of people who have written letters and signed petitions in support of the Break the Bag Habit campaign. This is a real vindication for all our hard work……but it must be as wide ranging as other charges for it to really work. ” To date, the English Government had 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. There are several conditions which MCS is concerned may reduce the impact of the announcement on the environment, when it is introduced in 2015: some types of bag may be exempt; and only larger businesses will be involved at first, with smaller to medium sized enterprises potentially allowed to continue handing out free bags. Find out more about Break the Bag Habit here

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