Large shops across England will have to charge five pence for all single use plastic carrier bags they provide from October 5.
Reporter Michelle Blade went out on the streets to chat with shoppers to find out what they thought about the new 5p charge for carrier bags.
Olive Baker, 86, from Bare
“I don’t like the idea of paying for plastic bags and there are far too many plastic bags used, some people doing their grocery shopping use 10 bags. Why not put everything in a trolley which you can wheel around like I do? Everything is for the government to make money, there has to be an easier way of packing groceries. Plastic bags were like the victim of their own success, we overdid the whole lot.”
Janet Carter, 67, of Morecambe
“I try to take my own plastic bags but sometimes you need some more, which if you have to pay for them, adds to your shopping bill.
“I wouldn’t resent paying for them and it’s a good idea if shops donate the profits to charity.”
Male shopper, who did not wish to be named
“It’s ridiculous charging for plastic bags. They either supply them or they don’t. Also, some of these bags for life are rubbish. Why can’t the supermarkets use paper bags for shopping like in the USA? The government wants money for everything.”
George Harrison, 82, from Morecambe
“Paying for plastic bags is good for the environment and you can’t ignore that plastic is a great thing but there are so many problems with it. In bushes along the promenade, you always see plastic bags stuck there. You are saving on pollution but there are some losers.”
Christine Lander, 40, from Heysham
“I think plastic bags should be free if you are paying for shopping and giving the shop your custom. You shouldn’t have to pay extra because the bags are mass produced and have already been paid for. A big shop costs £40 or £50 and you need a few bags but some can be quite flimsy and the money starts adding up because you are paying more out. If the supermarket is donating money to charity it’s easier to swallow and you don’t mind so much.”
Janine Skelly, 49, of Morecambe
“I use my own bag for life which I’m happy to bring with me. Plastic is bad for the environment which you have to think about. I am quite happy to provide my own bag if I’m shopping.”
David Hargreaves, 62, from Bolton
“It’ll make people bring their own bags but sometimes you forget. It’s quite easy to use bags for life and take your own bags. Other people buy lots of shopping and then throw the bags away, they should start reusing them, there’s no reason why not. I keep all my bags in the car and get them when I need them.”
Julie Whitaker, 39, of Heysham
“I shop at Aldi quite a lot and you already have to pay for plastic bags there so it won’t make any difference to me to pay at other shops. I think the bigger stores should charge for plastic bags because it might discourage people from using so many bags. It’s really not difficult to buy bags for life and reuse them for your shopping. It might also reduce the number of plastic bags dumped in the countryside which damage the environment.”
How the changes work
The changes to carrier bag charges which apply to shops and delivery companies with premises in the county will be enforced by Lancashire County Council’s trading standards service.
They will affect retailers with 250 or more full-time-equivalent employees, however, for retailers with fewer than 250 members of full-time staff the charge is optional. Any unused, plastic bags with handles which are 70 microns thick or less will have a charge to the customer – sealed packaging isn’t covered by the charge.
This charge will also apply to online shopping orders. In 2014 British supermarkets gave out 8.5 billion plastic bags, an increase of 2.3 % compared with 2013 (8.3 billion). The new 5p charge should hopefully reduce the number of plastic bags, which will be beneficial for the environment.
Similar 5p charges were introduced in Wales in October 2011; followed by Northern Ireland in April 2013 and Scotland in October 2014.
But the new rules could cause confusion for retailers and shoppers alike as many items are exempt.
Exemptions from carrier bag charge include uncooked fish and fish products; uncooked meat, poultry and their products; unwrapped food for animal or human consumption such as chips or food sold in containers not secure enough to prevent leakage; unwrapped loose seeds, flowers, bulbs, corns, rhizomes (roots, stems and shoots, such as ginger) or goods contaminated by soil and unwrapped blades; and live aquatic creatures in water.
Retailers are expected to donate all proceeds from carrier bag sales to good causes.
In Scotland and Wales, Boots has been giving money from charges to Macmillan Cancer Support.
From October, it will give all UK proceeds to Children in Need.
Morrisons will give money to the Sue Ryder hospices and Superdrug is donating the money to support Marie Curie Cancer Care.
However, the government is set to make £19m a year from the VAT attached to the sales of bags.
A spokesman for Tesco said: “We will be donating money to good causes with the proceeds from carrier bag sales.”
A spokesman for Sainsbury’s said: “From October 5 we will no longer have single-use bags in our English stores and will instead introduce a reusable bag charged at 5p which is in line with the objective of the levy to reduce the number of carrier bags used.
“Even though these bags aren’t subject to the levy we have chosen to voluntarily give our profits from reusable bags issued in store to good causes.
“These funds will be donated to local good causes and the decision will be made at a store by store basis.
“Current charities and good causes we support include local hospices, health, poverty and children’s charities.”
Asda were unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.