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RSPB Scotland welcomes introduction of carrier bag charge

3rd June 2014

Photograph of RSPB Scotland welcomes introduction of carrier bag charge

RSPB Scotland has welcomed the Scottish Parliament's approval of new regulations that will introduce a compulsory charge for single-use carrier bags. The 5p charge, applying to all retailers from October this year, will aim to reduce use of single-use carrier bags by 80%.

The charge will apply to most single-use carrier bags (excluding some types of bag such as paper bags for prescriptions, and also 'bags for life') and is mainly aimed at tackling plastic bag usage. In Scotland, around 740m carrier bags were used in 2011 - or around 12 bags per person per month.

A similar charge introduced in Wales in 2011 has led to a massive reduction in the use of plastic bags, and also generated significant funds for good causes. Scottish Regulations will be followed by a similar voluntary agreement between retailers to donate money raised to good causes, including schemes to tackle litter prevention.

Alexa Morrison, Conservation Policy Officer at RSPB Scotland said: "RSPB Scotland has been a strong supporter of a carrier bag charge in Scotland, and we are very pleased to see the regulations approved today.

"Although carrier bags are only one part of a bigger waste problem, they are a highly visible aspect of the need to tackle plastic waste and can have significant environmental impacts. Plastic bags, like other plastic waste, often end up in the marine environment and can harm seabirds, turtles, marine mammals and other wildlife.

"It is encouraging to see Scotland take this step forward in tackling waste issues and moving towards a more sustainable society."

Scottish Government Landmark legislation to tackle throwaway culture.

The introduction of carrier bag charges in Scotland has cleared its final parliamentary hurdle.

The Scottish Parliament has approved the Single Use Carrier Bags Charge (Scotland) Regulations 2014, meaning the 5 pence minimum charge will commence on October 20 this year. Scotland currently uses 750 million bags every year - the highest number in the UK. The purpose of the charge is to encourage shoppers to think about reusing bags to prevent litter and improve Scotland's environment.

A public consultation revealed overwhelming support for the charge, which will see funds generated being donated to good causes.

Welcoming the decision, Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said:"I am delighted that the Scottish Government's regulations on carrier bag charging have been approved by Parliament. This is landmark legislation that underlines Scotland is serious about tackling litter, reducing waste and creating a cleaner, greener environment for everyone to enjoy.

"The vast number of single use carrier bags given out in Scotland is symbolic of our throwaway society. By requiring retailers to charge at least 5p per bag we want shoppers to stop and think about what we discard. Instead of taking another bag that could end up as litter, we want people to re-use their bags or consider alternatives like bags for life.

“This charge is not a tax but will see retailers donating the proceeds to charity and has the potential to raise millions of pounds for good causes, including environmental projects. The Scottish Government and delivery body Zero Waste Scotland have been working closely with retailers at all stages of the process and will continue to do so in the run up to October 20 and beyond.

“The level of support from the Scottish public is extremely heartening and I hope we can repeat the real success achieved in other counties, where similar measures have been brought in. I urge everyone to get behind it."

Ian Gulland, Director, Zero Waste Scotland said:“Zero Waste Scotland welcomes the Scottish Parliament’s approval for a single use carrier bag charge in Scotland. This is a hugely positive step which will help to reduce the number of bags in use and therefore the number ending up as litter in our communities.

“We are working with all types of retailers affected by the charge, in all parts of Scotland, to help them understand how the charge will work and what the impact will be for their business. I encourage them to get in touch."

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