Scotland aims to slash its huge consumption of single-use carrier bag through the introduction of a minimum 5p charge on every bag dispensed.
With over 800 million given out every year, Scots currently use the most per head of any part of the UK and a significant number of these end up as litter.
The charge covers all retailers, no matter the size or type. So it’s not just supermarkets and other food retailers, but high street stores and smaller outlets like corner shops and takeaways. It will apply equally to bags made from plastic, paper and biodegradable materials. Shoppers can avoid the charge by remembering to re-use bags or bringing bags for life for their purchases.
Speaking at Tesco Elgin, which is pledging the funds raised to Keep Scotland Beautiful, Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “I’m extremely proud that this landmark legislation is now in force. Our carrier bag addiction is symptomatic of our throwaway culture and has serious implications for the environment. Huge numbers of these bags end up as litter, blighting our communities and clogging up our seas and natural habitats, affecting many sorts of wildlife and marine species in particular.
“We want that to change and for people to stop and think about whether they really need to take another bag. Alternatives like bags for life are easy to get and are much more sustainable.
“It’s extremely heartening to see so many retailers have signed up to the Carrier Bag Commitment, which includes a pledge to donate money raised through the charge to good causes around Scotland. Preparations for the charge coming in have been months in the planning and my thanks go to all those involved.
“We’ve seen that similar charges have been extremely successful in other countries such as Wales and Northern Ireland. I’m confident that Scotland can experience similar benefits and look forward to seeing a significant reduction in our use of carrier bags over the coming months and years.”
Iain Gulland, Director, Zero Waste Scotland said: “In Scotland we use hundreds of millions of single-use bags a year – an absurdity when you consider the resources used to make and transport an item for one use, before ending up as landfill or litter.
“The Carrier Bag Charge is an extremely positive step to cut the number of bags in circulation and prevent them ending up as litter, as well as encouraging re-use habits among shoppers.
“Zero Waste Scotland has been working with retailers across Scotland to help them prepare for the charge. We’re delighted so many have already registered for our Carrier Bag Commitment, agreeing to donate proceeds from bag sales to good causes, and we look forward to many more coming on board.”