Carrier bag charge reduced for Wales

The Welsh Assembly has modified its plan to charge for carrier bags. The implementation of the plan will be delayed and the price will be reduced.

Instead of the proposed 7p for single use carrier bags, there is a revised fee of 5p.

The plans will now be scheduled for October 1 2011 rather than early next year.

The Assembly say the changes have come about after consultation on the plans and will allow businesses more time to prepare for the legislation and to have sufficient time to make physical changes to stores, IT changes and staff training.

The Single Use Carrier Bag Charge (Wales) Regulations 2010 aim to reduce the use of 350 million carrier bags given away by major supermarkets alone each year. This is equivalent to 273 bags per household in Wales and costs approximately £1 million annually to clear up.

Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing Jane Davidson, said: “The statutory minimum charge will be 5p.

“I am satisfied that this level of charge will bring about significant behavioural change, without presenting an unwarranted obstacle in circumstance where a person genuinely forgets their reusable bag.”

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has opposed the implementation of a compulsory charge and has lobbied the Welsh Assembly for a reduction from the 7p originally proposed.

The Consortium welcomed to reduction but still oppose the charges in principal. The BRC’s head of environment, Bob Gordon, said: “You can’t shift consumer behaviour simply by legislating on charges.

“As we’ve always said, the key to reducing the environmental impact of carrier bags is education and persuasion rather than financial penalties.”

The new proposals for the regulations will be put to the National Assembly for Wales on 30 November 2010.

Alison Brown

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie