Increase to Carrier Bag Charge to Take Effect This Year

The minimum price for a single use plastic bag is set to increase from 5p to 10p this Spring.

The Scottish Parliament will be asked to approve the change from 1st April 2021. The charge on plastic bags was first introduced in Scotland in Scotland in October 2014.

Prior to the charge, 800 million single use carrier bags were issued annually in Scotland.

This fell by 80% by 2015 with the Marine Conservation Society noting in 2016 that the number of plastic carrier bags being found on Scotland’s beaches dropped by 40% two years in a row with a further drop of 42% recorded between 2018 and 2019.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 national lockdown, the Scottish Government is also planning to bring forward an exemption for retailers from charging for single use carrier bags for certain deliveries and collections, as was done in Spring 2020.

Additional measures to reduce single use plastic consumption include the banning of the sale of plastic stemmed cotton buds, with further steps to ban a number of single use items recently being consulted on.

Further to this, Ruth Maguire, SNP MSP for Cunninghame South last week asked the Scottish Government for an update on their plans to ban the use of single-use plastics.

Ben Macpherson, Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment said: “The Scottish Government has committed to meet or exceed the standards set out in the European Union’s single-use plastic directive, and we remain committed to long-term initiatives to tackle our throwaway culture and encourage a circular economy.

“The consultation seeking views on proposals to ban single use plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery, plates, saloon sticks and expandable polystyrene food containers was published on 12th October 2020 and closed on 4th January this year. We are currently analysing responses ahead of preparing draft regulations.

“The proposed introduction of market restrictions forms part of a package of wider measures being taken forward to address marine litter and support a shift away from a throwaway culture.”

Providing further comment, Ms Maguire said: “I’m glad that efforts are ongoing to curb the use of harmful single use plastics and await the results of the public consultation on restricting their use with interest.

“Wholesale changes in consumer attitudes will be required to end our throwaway culture but measures taken by the Scottish Government to ban plastic items which too often pollute our streets, green spaces and beaches is a step in the right direction.

“The increase in plastic bag charges is a timely reminder that our choices as consumers can impact on our environment and should give us pause for thought on the small positive changes we can make.”

In 2019 Scottish Retail Consortium reported that around £2.5 million had been raised for good causes from the sale of single-use carrier bags.

In a public consultation in 2019, an overwhelming number of respondents (80%) agreed that that there should be an increase in the plastic bag charge and that charging for single use carrier bags has had a positive impact on the environment.

Ruth Maguire’s question to the Scottish Government can be viewed in full below:

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