Plastic bag tax is too low?

10 April 2013

Carrier_bagsYou may be aware that the controversial carrier bag tax, which has been very successful in Wales was introduced in Northern Ireland last week. However, one shouty environmentalist is claiming that the 5p levy, the same as in Wales, is not high enough and should be increased to 15p.

Former leader of the Green Party in the Assembly, Brian Wilson said "I believe the ultimate success of the legislation will be when plastic bags are phased out completely. I do not believe the 5p levy will achieve this," before lobbying for a threefold increase in the rate.

"The aim should not be to raise revenue; it should be to change consumer behaviour, but I welcome the fact the revenue will be used for environmental schemes," he continued.

However, as in Wales, no one has ever suggested the thrust of the levy is to generate income- all the money raised (apart from any VAT charged) in both provinces will go to charitable causes, and the reduction in carrier bag usage reported in Wales does suggest the 5p charge is effective.

Environment Minister Alex Attwood insisted on the need to curb the 30,000 carrier bags thought to be used every hour and said they were aiming for a reduction in use of “at least 80%”. He also stressed that this was very much a voluntary tax- "consumers don't have to pay the levy. They can simply bring their own bags when shopping."

So what do you think? Is 5p just right, too much or not enough? Do you live in Wales or NI and have an opinion on the success of the scheme?  Tell us in the poll below. Or don't and see if we care.

TOPICS:   High Street News   Government


  • Ronald M.
    I love the 5p tax cos i get to chin you all for 5p just for a shitty brown bag to put your burger in! and i hate those smart cunts that say no to the 5p bag cos i gotta give them one anyway for their fries.
  • lolwut
    The 5p for a carrier bag is a joke. If I've purchased a item from a shop, I expect a bag to carry it in. They aren't getting enough VAT on the 5p so they want to raise it to more, what will they charge us for next? Bring your own glasses to pubs?
  • Lord S.
    @lolwut Don't give them ideas - Fucking hell.
  • Seymour
    I popped down to my local M&S today to buy some "Percy Pigs" for the grandchildren today, once I approached the self service checkout machinery I was prompted with the offer to pay an additional 5 pence sterling for a "large" bag! Needless to say, I paid for my pigs and popped into a bag (there was only one size available, how am I supposed to know if that's the large one?) and neglected to pay the 5 pence charge. I promptly walked out of the store, avoiding the eyes of the burly security guard who I must mention does such a fantastic job at keeping the local riff raff out! I am not one hundred percent sure if I got off scott free, but I must confess it was extremely nerve wracking!
  • Reasons c.
    carrier bags? or as chewbacca calls them...luggage!
  • Alexis
    Yep as Seymour says, just use the self service and say you've used zero bags when it asks.
  • Mark
    As an introductory rate I think 5p is fine as long as it increases to 15 or 25p and all profits go to environmental issues. As a NI resident, the charge is more of a hassle than a deterrent in this first week as people make queues in shops longer. Keep the 5p for the next year and then increase them substantially to pay for green issues. BTW I've already forgot my own bags but I refused to buy any. I just had to juggle a few items about my body!
  • Zeddy
    @lolwut-Bring your own glasses to pubs? Of course. How many people have the exact same prescription as another speccy twat?
  • Dionaeamuscipula
    The 5p tax has been very effective in Wales and I've gone from using at least one bag every supermarket visit to maybe using 6 a year. You quickly get used to it. The self service tills I use don't have bags beside them. Overall bag usage is down IIRC nearly 90%.
  • Posted b.
    Just reduce the cost of my shopping by multiples of 5p if I recycle one or more bags.
  • Someone E.
    Of course it would be too much to ask in this "make the public pay as much tax as we can squeeze out of them" country, to tax the plastic bag industry for not making their product biodegradable and environmently friendly! If I have to pay a bloody bag tax, I'll turn the bag inside out so I don't pay to advertise for the shop.
  • leeisgood
    Ronald's place, 5p for a fucking paper bag, last time there other pass them a recycle bag and asked them to put food in that.
  • Dick
    5p is cheap for a sex toy.
  • Kris
    @Seymour Be grateful you weren't shopping in Asda in Wales at the self service till. I hate these tills but the store had just opened and they don't have cashiers on at this time so I had to use them. The member of staff at these tills was busy with sorting out customer problems with the self service tills, as usual, so I had no-one to ask a question to. I had a torn, broken bag for life plastic bag and so had to replace it. I scanned the replacement bar code for a new bag, threw the old one into a bin at the till and proceeded to scan and bag my shopping in the replacement bag. Imagine my surprise when I was turned putting a heavy item into the bag to suddenly hear my till beep, and see a 6p charge appear on the screen for a new bag. I turned to see the female member of staff starting to move away from my till, and I asked her "excuse what what did you just do?" She said that I had had a new bag and only scanned for a replacement not a new one so she had scanned it into my till. I told her that I had done it correctly as I had a replacement and pointed to my old bag in the bin, whereupon she said that normally people ask her for the replacement bag and that I hadn't done so. I replied that normally I wouldn't touch the self service tills as they always seem to go wrong, but as the store had no cashiers on duty I had to use the self service and that she had been busy sorting out till problems. I said to her that what she had done had annoyed me but she just smirked and she then removed the entry from my till list - but at no point did she apologise for what she had done which made me even more annoyed. This is an example of the type of service we get in our supermarkets these days here in Wales - from the Aldis to M&S etc - they are all the same. The plastic bag tax is just a con - where is the proof that all shops are giving the funds to charities, our Welsh Govt has no checks in place to ensure this. It's just free money and profit for the shops - paid for by us the customers.

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