BRUSSELS, May 12, 2021 (PPI Europe) -Starting later this month, UK citizens will have to pay more for plastic bags and at more places. Following the introduction of a £0.05 ($0.07) single-use carrier bag charge in 2015, which has reduced plastic bag sales in major supermarkets by 95%, the country will raise the levy to £0.10 and extend it to all businesses from May 21.
“As a result of the carrier bag charge, the average person in England now buys just four single-use carrier bags a year from the main supermarkets, compared with 140 in 2014. By extending the charge to all retailers, it is expected that the use of single-use carrier bags will decrease by 70-80% in small and medium-sized businesses,” the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) said in a statement.
Defra added that a new report published by the Waste Resource Action Programme (WRAP) charity has found a shift in attitude towards plastic bags since the charge was first brought in. Through a survey of over 2,000 adults, it was revealed that close to seven in 10 (69%) were either strongly or slightly in favor of the charge when it was first introduced, and that number has increased now to 73%.
Moreover, customers are reportedly changing habits to use long-life bags made from more sustainable and environmentally-friendly materials. “Of those surveyed, two in three (67%) said they used a ‘bag-for-life’ – either fabric or more durable plastic – to take their shopping home, with only 14% using a single-use carrier bag,” Defra noted.
The department added that, according to the WRAP study, only one in four (26%) respondents purchase bags from the till when doing food shopping, including 4% who say they do this always.
The head of the UK association of convenience stores James Lowman welcomed the inclusion of local shops and other small businesses into the plastic bag charging system. “[This does] not only help the environment, but is also a great way for retailers to raise money for local and national charities,” he commented.
In its war against plastic pollution, the UK government has already banned microbeads in rinse-off personal care products and prohibited the supply of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds. Moreover, a plastic packaging tax will be introduced from April next year for products which do not have at least 30% recycled content, and the government is currently consulting on reforms that will introduce a deposit return scheme for beverage containers and Extended Producer Responsibility for packaging.