The use of single use carrier bags has declined by 71% in Wales and donations to good causes are estimated at between £17m and £22m, according to the findings of a report commissioned by the Welsh Government.
The Post Implementation Review of the Single Use Carrier Bag (SUCB) Charge in Wales examines the impact of the charge, since its introduction, on consumers, businesses and the environment, and the impact of the voluntary agreement with retailers to donate the net proceeds to good causes.
Carl Sergeant – “Wales was the first country in the UK to introduce a Single Use Carrier Bag (SUCB) Charge in order to reduce consumption and the associated environmental impacts. We wanted the people of Wales to get into the habit of reusing their bags when shopping”
Wales’s Natural Resources Minister Carl Sargeant said the introduction of the Single Use Carrier Bag charge in 2011 has led to a significant shift in consumer behaviour and important benefits to the environment. It has also had the additional benefit of significant amounts raised for good causes.
Other key findings from the report include:
- 74% of consumers say they are supportive of the charge
- among retailers who charged for their bags, the majority reported that the SUCB charge had made either a positive or neutral impact on their business (87%)
- a rise in the use of “bags for life” and other re-useable bags has meant an overall reduction in all bags of 57%.
The report on the SUCB charge in Wales comes a month before carrier bag charges begin in England on 5 October 2015. However, in England, only large retailers will have to apply the charge. Small or medium-sized businesses will not have to charge.
Carl Sargeant said: “Wales was the first country in the UK to introduce a Single Use Carrier Bag (SUCB) Charge in order to reduce consumption and the associated environmental impacts. We wanted the people of Wales to get into the habit of reusing their bags when shopping.
“I am pleased that almost four years on from the introduction of the charge in Wales consumer habits appear to be changing which is having a positive knock on effect on the environment as well as raising a significant amount of money for good causes.”
The news comes days after Northern Ireland announced a 70% reduction in the use of single use bags as a result of the tax implemented in 2013.