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Plastic bag reuse rate ‘proves’ need for levy, claims Welsh environment minister

Narrowly missing single-use plastic bag reduction targets ‘prove’ the need for a bag levy, Welsh environment minister Jane Davidson has claimed.

Supermarkets who signed the voluntary target of halving the number of single use-bags given out in the UK from the 2006 baseline of 10.9 billion by 2009 narrowly missed their target, achieving a 41% reduction, according to figures released by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP).

Following the publication of the figures, Davidson has said that a fall in the reported rate at which single-use bags are being reduced now necessitates a charge.

“While I am pleased that Wales is continuing to make steady progress in reducing its use of bags, there’s no doubt that progress in this area is starting to peter out and that we are still using far too many bags per person,” she said.

“I think this proves that while the voluntary agreement with retailers has helped to reduce dramatically the number of bags we use, we now need a more formal arrangement. The carrier bag charge will give us the incentive we need to keep improving in this area and I am confident that, once the charge is implemented, Wales’ performance will increase dramatically.”  

The Welsh Assembly currently has a consultation open on the possibility of a mandatory 7p levy for customers using single-use carrier bags in Wales.

Northern Ireland environment minister Edwin Poots also called for tougher action to achieve the aim of halving single-use plastic bags.

Poots said: “I am encouraged that the major supermarket retailers and their customers continue to reduce single-use carrier bag consumption. As a result of their actions ,there are 19 million fewer single-use carrier bags in circulation in Northern Ireland than there was last year. That is 19 million fewer bags that could potentially end up in landfill.

“Taking reusable bags shopping is a very simple yet effective way for everyone to play their part in helping to prevent waste. I encourage everyone to lose a bad habit and instead ‘get a bag habit’ by reusing plastic bags or switching to other reusable bags.”

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