During a visit to school in Teddington, the Prime Minister said he had been involved in a meeting to discuss the best way of implementing a scheme to charge for plastic bags.

He also highlighted the success Wales has had since the country introduced a plastic-bag charging scheme in October 2011. The scheme has reduced plastic bag use by 80%.

The Prime Minister has also readdressed the issue since recent figures showed that plastic bag use increased by12.2% between 2010 and 2012.

While plastic carrier bags use 70% less plastic than 20 years ago, they are still made from polyethylene (PE) which is derived from non-renewable oil and require energy to manufacture.

On its website, WRAP stresses that plastic bags are recyclable and are increasingly being recycled, but the majority still end up in landfill where they may take hundreds of years to break down.

Increasing the recycled content of new plastic bags is a way of using fewer natural resources and reducing the environmental impact of bags.

However, it also explains that carrier bags represent less than 1% of household waste but are considered by many to be a symbol of a ‘throwaway society’ and contribute to visible litter.

Following Wales lead, a levy was introduced on single-use carrier bags in Northern Ireland in April 2013. Retailers now charge at least five pence per single-use carrier bag supplied to their customers with the revenue going to the Department of the Environment (DOE).

Planning on introducing a scheme, the Scottish Government is set to introduce regulations by October 2014 that will require Scottish retailers to charge a minimum of five pence for every single-use carrier bag they issue.

Leigh Stringer

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