A five-pence levy on carrier bags in Scotland is now in place. The new charge includes plastic, paper and biodegradable bags and applies to all retailers, from supermarkets to local stores and takeaways.
The charge was approved by the Scottish Parliament in May and the government expects the legislation to help cut litter, saying that councils pick up 7.4 million plastic bags each year.
Scottish environment secretary Richard Lochhead said at a Tesco store in Elgin: “Our carrier bag addiction is symptomatic of our throwaway culture and has serious implications for the environment.
“We want that to change and for people to stop and think about whether they really need to take another bag.”
Friends of the Earth Scotland director Richard Dixon said: “Charging for their use is an important step in changing people’s behaviour. If the Scottish public don’t respond positively to this then we should examine other options including increasing the charge per bag or phasing out the sale of single-use plastic bags.”
Scotland is the third country in the UK to introduce the 5p charge, after Wales started it in 2011 and one was introduced in Northern Ireland in 2013. In July, MRW reported how carrier bag usage had dropped significantly in 2013 in those countries with a levy, despite an increase in usage across the UK as a whole.
Proposals for an English version due for Autumn 2015 were criticised by the Environmental Audit Committee in February for being too complex and confusing for the consumer.