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Public bodies criticise Welsh carrier bag levy

Consultation responses have criticised the “administrative burden” placed on small businesses and local authorities by the planned introduction of a levy for carrier bags in Wales.

Announced by the Welsh Assembly Government in June, the second stage consultation invited responses to environment minister Jane Davidson’s plan to create a mandatory 7p levy for customers when they purchase a plastic single-use carrier bag from spring next year. But public bodies argue that the levy will create unforeseen problems and bureaucracy for their members. 

The Association of Charity Shops (ACS) hit out at the possibility of customers being charged again for second-hand carrier bags after purchasing goods from charity shops.

In its response, the ACS said: “We would be very concerned if reused bags are to be excluded only by omission, by implication. Any consequential charging for reused bags would simply punish good environmental behaviour and might, perversely, lead to an increase in the use of new single-use bags as consumers lose any financial incentive to reuse.”

The ACS also criticised what it termed the “undue and disproportionate burdens” of keeping record of how many bags had been sold. It explained that the proposed exemption for businesses earning £68,000 or less a year from publishing annual records would “capture a very large proportion of charity shops”.

Its response continued: “Charity shops rely on volunteer support, and it would be unfair and unreasonable to place a reporting burden on them. Both the income and bags thresholds need to be considerably higher not to be disproportionate.”

The Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee also criticised the added bureaucracy that the levy would bring to local authorities.

Its consultation response said: “These regulations will place additional enforcement and administrative burdens on local councils. With such a wide range of outlets, policing this legislation could place a massive burden on already overstretched enforcement officers. Also, the proposed protocol and time frames for the Notice of Intent, Final Notice and subsequent further action will require a fair bit of monitoring and definitely increase the administrative burden.”

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