ACS: Latest Government Figures Highlight Need For Universal Carrier Bag Charging

ACS has urged the government to include small businesses in the upcoming carrier bag charge in England after new figures from WRAP showed that single-use carrier bag usage in England rose by 200m in the last year.

From October this year, all businesses that employ 250 or more staff will have to charge customers a minimum of 5p for each single-use carrier bag. ACS has previously called for small businesses to be included within the charge to prevent consumer and retailer confusion over which shops do and don’t charge for carrier bags.

ACS chief executive, James Lowman said: “We think charging is most effective and fairer when introduced for all retailers, so we were disappointed that the government decided to introduce a small business exemption from compulsory charging.

“Independent retailers who are exempt from the charge may be reluctant to introduce a charge unilaterally because they can see it putting them at a disadvantage with local competitors.  Currently 22% of independent retailers charge for carrier bags.”

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have already implemented mandatory carrier bag charges for all sized businesses which has been successful at reducing the number of carrier bags given out by retailers. Since implementation, Wales’ single-use carrier bag usage has seen an overall decrease of 78.2%, Northern Ireland has seen a 42.6% decrease, and Scotland, who introduced the charges last Autumn, has already seen an 18.3% decrease.

Mr Lowman continued: “The decline in carrier bag usage in Scotland, and the long-term reductions seen in Wales, show that carrier bag charging can be highly effective.   As well as benefiting the environment, carrier bag charging saves retailers costs and generates funds for local good causes.”

Earlier this week, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) published guidance for retailers about the upcoming carrier bag charges which can be found here:

This entry was posted by Victoria on Fri, 24/07/2015 - 10:54