ACS Welcomes Plastic Bag Charging in 25 Year Environment Plan 

ACS has responded to the Environmental Audit Committee’s inquiry into the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, welcoming the government’s ambition to reduce the impact of single-use plastics, including action to extend plastic bag charging.

The Environment Plan was announced in January by Prime Minister Theresa May, setting out a range of targets to improve the environment and increase recycling rates. 

One of the measures that was raised specifically by the Prime Minister in announcing the plan was the success of the 5p plastic bag charge in reducing the number of bags given out, suggesting that legislation could be extended in England to include all retailers, not just those with over 250 employees. 

ACS research has shown that 42% of independent retailers currently charge for plastic bags on a voluntary basis, and has called for the extension of the charge to include all retailers in England to bring legislation in line with Scotland and Wales. 

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We support regulatory action to extend the plastic bag levy to small retailers. A consistent approach to plastic bag charging in England will give all retailers the chance to raise money for good causes and contribute to the positive environmental impact of reducing the number of carrier bags in circulation.”

In the submission, ACS raised concerns about any plans to introduce a deposit return scheme in the UK, due to the impact on retailers and the potential problems of such a scheme working in conjunction with the existing kerbside collection infrastructure. The submission notes research conducted by ACS which shows that 71% of independent retailers either do not have space in their stores for a deposit return scheme or would have to make changes to their stores to make space. 

Mr Lowman continued: “We support effective measures to reduce the impact of plastic waste, but remain concerned about the retail impact of a deposit return scheme which is unproven in the UK as a way to increase recycling rates, but will impose significant time, space and cost burdens on the convenience sector.”

Earlier this week, the government published their response to the Environmental Audit Committee’s report on plastic bottle waste. In their response, the government stated that the Voluntary and Economic Incentives Working Group are still to report to Ministers on whether a deposit return scheme would be feasible in the UK. The government also noted that there would need to be consideration on how a deposit return scheme would fit in with other work they are doing to reduce plastics.

The full submission is available here.

This entry was posted by Chloe on Wed, 28/02/2018 - 12:34