Carrier bag tax finally hits England
We warned you. After the runaway success the carrier bag tax has been in Wales, and with Northern Ireland and Scotland already following suit, it was only a matter of time before we were lumbered with a similar charge here in England. And now the Queen has confirmed it.
The Queen’s Speech today impressed upon us the Government’s green credentials, saying: "My government will... reduce the use of plastic carrier bags to help protect the environment." The Government have been under pressure from environmental groups for some time, owing to claims of wasted resources, littering and injuries to marine wildlife. Critics of the scheme, however, think that many people do reuse carrier bags, either to carry things in or to use as a bin liner, or even recycle them in those big bins outside supermarkets, suggesting there may be other more pressing environmental matters to address. Like the permission to frack under anywhere and anything, which was also in today's speech, for example.
Nevertheless, from October next year, supermarkets will have to charge a 5p levy when handing out carrier bags, in an attempt to reduce the 7 billion bags currently dished out at checkouts. Bag usage in Wales has reduced by 75% since the levy was introduced. Small retailers will, however, be exempt to reduce any additional pressures on small business.
Of course, if you currently shop at Aldi, or Marks and Spencer, who both currently charge for bags anyway, you won’t notice any difference. Bully for you.
However, outline plans have already been criticised by the Environmental Audit Committee as being too woolly around the edges- in addition to excluding small retailers, the plans are not firm on whether biodegradable or paper carrier bags should be in or out of the levy. The Committee fears consumers will get stuck in an interminable loop of the hokey cokey and never be sure whether they need to bring bags with them or not. And don’t even start on Bags for Life…