Watch out for them Welsh

In a week where rioting has dominated the news and livelihoods have been destroyed by the looting, there is a danger that raising the issue of people's shopping habits, particularly their dependence on carrier bags, could be construed as rather trivial.

However, I am going to risk the wrath of avid readers by returning to this theme, which I touched upon in my last blog. As you'll recall, I discussed WRAP's latest figures on single-use carrier bags issued to supermarket customers.

On closer inspection, the figures reveal a surprising trend in Wales that supports the argument that charging people for the use of carrier bags is the best way to achieve a real and lasting reduction.

Interestingly, unlike in England and Scotland, Wales has seen a decline in carrier bag use over the last year even before a mandatory charge has been introduced. Likewise in Northern Ireland.

While the Stormont Government is apparently considering whether to bring in a charge, the Welsh Assembly has taken the brave step of announcing a mandatory 5p charge, which will take effect from this October.

Clearly, even without this stick in place, consumers have seen 'shopping' sense. By reusing their carrier bags instead, the Welsh have managed to cut usage by an impressive 7% in a year.

Whether warning consumers in advance that you are going to charge them for using carrier bags proves decisive in changing people's shopping habits is open to debate. But in the drive to lead more sustainable lives, it certainly can't hurt.

Nick Warburton

Topics: edie
Tags: | Ireland | Scotland | WRAP
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