The charge will apply to all bags, regardless of whether or not they are made of plastic. The move ensures that England is now the only nation within the UK that has not implemented, or guaranteed to implement, a levy on carrier bags. Wales has been running a similar scheme since 2011, whilst Northern Ireland announced the introduction of a charge in April this year.
The proceeds emerging from the levy, which are expected to be in excess of £5m per year, will be issued directly to charities and good causes.
Richard Lochhead – “Carrier bags are a highly visible aspect of litter and we are taking decisive action to decrease their number. By reducing the amount being carelessly discarded we can cut litter and its impact on our environment and economy”
Mr Lochhead said: “Discarded carrier bags highlight our throwaway society. We use more carrier bags per head in Scotland than in any other part of the UK and this is unsustainable. Carrier bags are a highly visible aspect of litter and we are taking decisive action to decrease their number. By reducing the amount being carelessly discarded we can cut litter and its impact on our environment and economy.
“Thousands of Scottish people already use bags for life and some retailers already charge. It is now time, however, for a national effort. We have seen elsewhere that carrier bag charging has been effective in encouraging people to reuse bags. This charge is not a tax, but will see retailers donating the proceeds to charity.”
Director of Zero Waste Scotland Iain Gulland said: “Zero Waste Scotland supports initiatives that tackle litter and help achieve a zero waste society, so we welcome the Scottish Government’s decision to implement a levy on single use bags.
“We can all reduce the impact of carrier bags by making sure that when we must take one, we reuse it over and over again as many times as possible and then recycle it at the end of its life. Encouraging the reuse of carrier bags will complement wider action to tackle litter, which will be published later this summer. Moves to cut litter on land, in the sea and river systems will be set out as strategies for consultation.”
This is the latest in a number of Scottish moves to improve environmental performance and reduce waste, and the carrier bag levy will complement the Waste (Scotland) Regulations, whose first commercial waste targets come into force on 1 January 2014.