If you live in Wales you’ll have to pay 5p for every new plastic carrier bag from next year. Is this an eco-friendly scheme that should be rolled out across the UK or just another way to squeeze money out of shoppers?
I’ve got a confession to make. Last night, having rushed to the supermarket straight from work, I packed my shopping into fresh plastic carrier bags.
There, I’ve said it. It’s not an easy thing for me to admit – I like to think I’m as green as I can be, especially when it comes to easy things like reusing bags.
And, while I’ve got piles of strong ‘bags for life’ at home, I still keep kicking myself mid-shop when I realise that I’ve left them at home – again.
Wales is leading the way
I know I’m not alone. In September YouGov polled consumers on this subject and found that 43% often use a ‘bag for life’, yet just over a third still use free plastic bags provided by the retailer.
But would charging us for every bag we use change these figures? Welsh politicians seem to think so. Last week the Welsh Assembly announced that, from 1 October 2011, shoppers will have to pay 5p for each plastic carrier bag they want when they’re out shopping.
That would have set me back around 50p last night. It’s not going to break the bank, but it might well nudge me into leaving a few strong bags in the car at all times (something I regularly tell myself to do, but never have to date).
Scheme should be countrywide
There are a few shops that have introduced this scheme nationally – Marks & Spencer and Holland & Barrett spring to mind. Last year, M&S told us that since charging shoppers 5p for plastic bags it’s cut the number handed out from 464 million to 77 million. Impressive stuff – just think how many more could be cut with a proper roll out.
And that’s the crux of the issue for me. While some shops obviously need to lead the way, I can’t help but think that Wales has the right idea. Surely the scheme needs all retailers on board to really get into people’s mindsets and work properly?
YouGov’s survey revealed that public opinion is mixed on whether this would be successful. Nearly a third agrees that charging for carriers will reduce the overall number being used, while 24% think these schemes are a ploy by supermarkets to make more money.
Where do you stand on this? Would paying for plastic bags force you to bring your own, or would it just mean you’re paying a higher price to pack your shopping?
What do you think about paying for plastic bags?
They should be free (81%, 2,841 Votes)
5p per bag is about right (12%, 418 Votes)
We should pay more than 5p (7%, 238 Votes)
Total Voters: 3,497