Page last updated at 12:45 GMT, Monday, 29 June 2009 13:45 UK

Welsh plan may mean 15p bag fee


A public consultation has started as to whether compulsory charges for carrier bags should be introduced in Wales

Plans to drastically reduce the use of plastic carrier bags have been revealed by the Welsh Assembly Government.

Environment minister Jane Davidson has announced a series of proposals which could see shops charge as much as 15p for a bag.

If agreed, Wales would lead the UK on dealing with cutting plastic bag use.

The move is likely to welcomed by environmentalists, but is expected to be criticised by plastics and packaging manufacturers and some retailers.

UK consumers took home about 9.9bn carrier bags in 2008, equivalent to 400 bags per household
Wales used around 480 million bags last year
Plastic bags account for 2.7% of litter by weight (Keep Wales Tidy survey figures)
Removing this specific litter costs about £1m annually. All litter removal costs Wales £37m a year
Plastic bags account for 2.1% of all litter found on beaches
Source: Welsh Assembly Government

An estimated 480m carrier bags are used in Wales each year and it takes between 500 and 1,000 years for them to degrade.

In February, the Welsh Assembly Government became the first administration in the UK to start work on legislation to end the use of free single-use plastic bags.

Last month, a bilingual campaign called Get Carried Away was launched to encourage people in Wales to reduce the number of plastic bags which are used just once.

At the time, Ms Davidson said: "As a minister I have always stated that I do not support the use of one-trip plastic bags.

"I have asked my department to develop legislation to end the use of single-use carrier bags."

'Stealth tax'

Welsh Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Mick Bates AM said the levy could be expected to bring in "tens of millions" which he said "must end up back in the hands of the public and not be just another stealth tax".

He said: "The big question for the minister is who she will nominate to use the money raised by the levy, to ensure that it is re-distributed for the benefit of the environment.

The Conservative environment spokesperson in the assembly, Angela Burns, said firm proposals needed to be put in place by Ms Davidson "sooner rather than later".

She said: "We would be supportive of any moves to reduce the number of plastic bags being used in Wales and have been calling for a levy to be placed on them for some time now.

"Introducing a levy would hopefully provide us with a nationwide scheme which has the support of manufacturers, retailers, consumers and environmental groups."


High street pharmacy firm Boots said it was not in favour of the planned charge.

Marc Donovan, pharmacy manager for Wales, said: "We have listened to our customers in Wales who want us to help them reduce their usage of carrier bags of all sizes but they do not want a compulsory charge.

"We are also concerned that this measure could discourage shoppers at a time when high streets in Wales are already under severe pressure due to the recession."

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