Wales plans bag tax for 2011

Welsh plans to introduce a mandatory charge for disposable plastic bags similar to the Irish 'plastax' look set to bear fruit next spring.

Wales is proposing a 7p tax to be levied on every disposable plastic bag at the point of sale, to encourage shoppers to take their own bags with them and reduce the waste created by carrier bags.

Driven by Welsh Environment Minister, Jane Davidson, the fee is expected to dramatically reduce the number of single-use carrier bags used in the country.

More than 400 million single use carrier bags are currently given out to Welsh shoppers each year.

Most of these end up littering our country or in landfill where they release harmful greenhouse gasses into the environment and take between 500 and 1000 years to degrade.

“Carrier bags are an iconic symbol of the throwaway society in which we live,” said Ms Davidson.

“Whilst I know that reducing our use of single use carrier bags is not going to solve all our environmental problems, the charge delivers an important message about the need for us to live much more sustainable lives.

“I believe the seven pence charge is high enough to encourage consumers to change their shopping habits but not so high that it will stop impulse shopping or create a significant burden when we have forgotten reusable bags.

“I am confident that the Welsh public will embrace the carrier bag charge and see it as positive step towards preserving our beautiful countryside and helping Wales to reduce its carbon footprint.

“It’s important to remember that no one has to pay the charge; it can be simply avoided if we remember to carry reusable bags when we do our shopping.”

The Environment Minister will launch a second consultation on the carrier bag charge today, Friday June 4.

It will ask for public views on:

  • Whether the charge should be on all single-use carrier bags – including those made of paper
  • If there should be exemptions for certain types of bags such as those used to carry unpackaged food like loose vegetables or pharmacy medicines
  • Whether there should be a voluntary agreement with retailers to ensure that profits from the charge are passed to environmental or community projects and good causes.
  • The consultation will soon be online on the Welsh Assembly’s website.

    Sam Bond

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