UK retailers should charge for plastic carrier bag use, a Welsh Government Minister has said.
One year ago, a 5p bag charge was introduced across Wales which has seen plastic bag use drop by as much as 96 per cent across some retail sectors and about 70 per cent of the public in the country now support the move.
Welsh Environment Minister John Griffiths said: “One year on from the introduction of our 5p bag charge it is obvious that it has made a real difference to shopping habits of people here in Wales.
“Checkouts across Wales are now full of people using their own bags to carry shopping rather than paying 5p for a new one, and it is really heartening to see people in Wales developing sustainable shopping habits and being much less wasteful with the world’s natural resources.”
As a direct result of the charge, some £800,000 has been raised according to the latest figures from the RSPB and the Keep Wales Tidy campaign which both benefitted from the funds, with money collected from the proceeds of bag sales at retailers including Asda, Argos, Tesco and Wilkinson.
Meanwhile, Co-op is donating proceeds from the charge to Welsh charities that champion environmental causes and pledged £75,000 in April to the Vincent Wildlife Trust’s three-year project aimed at protecting the rare species Pine Martens which live in South West Wales and Snowdonia.
Carrier bag use across the UK is rising despite reductions in Wales and Scotland and Northern Ireland are investigating the possibility of introducing the charge themselves.
Griffiths concluded: “I think the Welsh experience proves that if you want to effectively reduce carrier bag use, a charge really is the best way to go.
“I have been really impressed by the ease with which Welsh retailers and shoppers have adjusted to the charge.
“Their efforts have been key to its success and I can see no reason why the charge wouldn’t work just as well in other parts of the UK.”