It’s still not in the bag – a cautious welcome to the new charge

Greener Upon Thames campaigners welcomed the introduction of a carrier bag charge in England in the Queen’s speech on June 4th, but expressed disappointment that it would exclude paper and biodegradable bags and wouldn’t apply to small shops.

A member of the national Break the Bag Habit campaign, GUT believes that the Government has failed to listen to guidance given by every sector asked for advice by announcing that its proposed scheme will exclude small retailers, paper bags and biodegradable bags. The result will be a scheme that is different from the ones in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – confusing for both retailers and consumers.

Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park and GUT supporter, commented: “Plastic bags are the most obvious, and gratuitous symbols of our throwaway culture, and it’s therefore good news that the Government is bringing in a levy on their use. But as ever, the scheme is vastly overcomplicated. It already works simply and very well in Wales, where plastic bag use has plummeted and where the scheme is popular, and I hope in time the Government will learn from their experiences.”

The bag charge is designed to significantly reduce the 7 billion bags given out every year in England, in turn reducing the incidence of littering and choked wildlife. But with only larger retailers required to take part in the scheme, consumers will find the scheme inconsistent and the small retailers won’t have the chance to reduce their costs…

You can read the full GUT/Break the Bag Habit press release on the Greener Kingston website or our Facebook page.

Retailers and shoppers – you can do better than the Government: you can still sign the Break the Bag Habit pledge and stop using single-use bags – see below.

Or you could write to a newspaper (local or national) or to your MP to support more consistent, inclusive and environmentally-friendly legislation.