Since October 2015 shoppers in England are charged 5p for every new single use plastic bag they obtain from a shop . Scotland started a similar scheme in 2014. The income should go to good causes.
The charge applies only to shops or chains with 250 or more full-time employees and there are 261 such chains registered. Some items are excluded such as unwrapped food, raw meat and fish where there is a food safety risk, prescription medicines, uncovered blades, seeds, bulbs and flowers, or live fish and paper bags. Smaller businesses can introduce a charge if they wish but remain unregistered.
Benefits from the Law
- £60m savings in litter clean-up costs and less pollution in seas and rivers.
- Large savings from the reduced hydrocarbon consumption and other environmental benefits.
- Over £400m should be raised for good causes if the 5p’s collected are passed on to charities as originally envisaged?
- Increased public awareness of plastic pollution.
- Retailers are not spending money on single use bags they used to give away.
- Retailers need to report what they do with the money. Smaller charities could pitch direct to retailers for a slice of the cash generated.
- Some major supermarket chains, including Aldi, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s and The Cooperative Group have worked with CAF.
- Waitrose have just concluded a deal with Marine Conservation Society to fund clean ups.
- Tesco have just stopped selling “single use” 5p bags instead offering shoppers reusable “bags for life” costing 10p. Double or quits for their local community grant scheme.
Bags of Suspicion
Are some retailers keeping the 5p charge to boots profits or to offset the cost of all the bags and packaging they supply.
Are some retailers collecting the charge without being require too.
Are some retailers and charity administrations using the income to cover inappropriate costs or none charitable purpose.