Welsh shoppers show overwhelming support for carrier bag charges
The majority of people in Wales are in favour of the country introducing a charge on single-use carrier bags, new research shows.
A survey of shoppers by researchers at Cardiff University, which was carried out ahead of the scheme's introduction last month, found that 70% agreed with the charge, mainly citing a positive impact on the environment, reduction in litter and less use of plastic bags.
Nearly two-fifths of the public said they would be willing to pay more than the minimum 5p charge for a bag. The finding is backed up by a survey of retailers after the introduction of the charge, who said 70% of the public has responded positively to the changes.
The number of bags given out by shops has dropped by up to 95% since the introduction of the 5p carrier charge, according to retailers. But researchers revealed there was a large variation in the reduction, with large national stores such as supermarkets recording the biggest drop while takeaways reported no fall in the number of bags given out.
Meanwhile, Sales of Bags for Life have jumped between six times and 13 times since the introduction of the charge. However, there was still some confusion among businesses about when they need to charge for a bag and when they do not.
While 45% of those surveyed in mid-October said they did not have any exempt bags, 35% of these were retailers who were likely to, such as grocers who sell loose food, card shops that could offer bags for small flat items or shops that reuse bags such as charity shops.
When asked, some retailers said they charged because they did not want to risk getting it wrong and they did not want to be prosecuted. Although the Welsh Government had hoped the money would go to environmental charities, just 7% of companies said they were planning to give the money to environmental causes.
The survey also found those who disagreed with the charge were either in favour of a ban or felt, with the cost of living increasing, it was an extra cost on food or luxury items should be excluded. The Welsh Government has agreed a three-month bedding in period to allow retailers to get used to the change.