Newsagents have added their voice to calls for the 5p plastic bag charge in England to be extended to all shops, and say the resource minister is “sympathetic”.
The National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NRFN) is concerned that smaller shops will be forced to hand out more plastic bags to compensate for larger stores no longer doing so under the legislation which came into effect in England on 5 October.
As a result, the federation argues that it will cost smaller shops more and will not have the desired effect of preventing the environmental damage of single-use plastic bags.
In September, MRW reported that many SMEs were charging the levy voluntarily.
NFRN chief executive Paul Baxter and public affairs chairman Mike Mitchelson met the Defra minister responsible, Rory Stewart, at the Conservative Party Conference.
They urged that the 5p levy be extended, and reported that Stewart was “sympathetic”, saying the NRFN’s concerns would be taken into account when the legislation was reviewed.
Mitchelson said: “The success of schemes in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland offers an excellent example of how the levy can work to include businesses of all sizes, having the best possible chance of achieving the aim of reducing the amount of single-use plastic carrier bags used.
“Whiet we are aware that a small business can choose to impose a charge voluntarily, we fear that many retailers that are supportive of the scheme will not participate because of the uncertainty about possibly losing out to their local competitors if they do.
“A universal rule removes uncertainty for all and maximises the environmental benefits.”