Government announces 5p plastic bag charge

Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg has announced that a 5p charge for carrier bags will be introduced from Autumn 2015.
The government said over seven billion carrier bags were issued by supermarkets in England last year, with many ending up in landfill or scattered around streets, costing tax-payers millions of pounds to clean-up.
Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, said: “Plastic carrier bags blight our towns and countryside. They take hundreds of years to degrade and can kill animals.
“This is not a new problem. We’ve waited too long for action. That’s why I am drawing a line under the issue now. The charge will be implemented sensibly – small businesses will be exempt.
“We will discuss with retailers how the money raised should be spent but I call on them to follow the lead of industry in Wales and donate the proceeds to charity.”
Environment Minister Lord de Mauley said: “We have all seen the effects of discarded plastic bags caught in trees and hedges or ending up in rivers where they harm animals.
“Introducing a small charge for plastic bags will make people think twice before throwing them away.”
The charging scheme in England is expected to follow the Welsh model in which retailers voluntarily give profits to charity. Small businesses with fewer than 250 employees will be exempt from the charge to ensure that they are not disproportionately burdened by the charges.
Commenting on the announcement, Association of Convenience Stores public affairs director Shane Brennan said: “Retailers share the environmental concerns about the impact of single use carrier bags and have worked over a number of years to reduce the amount of bags they give away.
“Our experience in Wales has been positive. Retailers have seen a significant decline in the amount of bags given away and no significant impact on sales. We welcome the introduction of a similar scheme in England.
“This experience has contributed to a situation where more than 60% of independent retailers now support mandatory carrier bag charging. We will consider carefully the proposals that are announced and stress the need for the scheme to reflect the model in Wales which is designed to minimise the red tape burden on shops, and give local shops the freedom to use the money raised from bag charges to donate to the charities they choose.
“However, we will oppose any measures that are similar to the scheme in Northern Ireland which is a bureaucratic tax that requires retailers to collect the revenue and hand it over to national Executive.”
Ken Parsons, chief executive of the Rural Shops Alliance, said: ”Experience in Wales and Northern Ireland, where similar compulsory levies are already in place, suggests that the measure can be effective in changing customers’ attitude to carrier bags and reducing their use massively.
“When the charge is explained to customers, they are usually happy to accept it.”

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