Sunday, May 26, 2024

International news: England to introduce plastic bag charges

From October 5, as part of a new government scheme, customers at all large shops in England will be charged 5p (10.7¢) for each single-use carrier bag they use during their shopping trip.

Based on statistics from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – where a bag charge already exists – retailer Tesco anticipates plastic carrier bag use in England will drop by nearly 70 per cent as a result.

To help customers reduce their bag use and become accustomed to using recyclable ‘Bags for Life’, in England Tesco will offer a limited number of free Bags for Life at the check-out during the week before the charge comes into force. The retailers will also share tips on how customers can cut down the number of bags used during each shopping trip.

Tesco has also revamped the design of its single-use carrier bags to coincide with the introduction of the bag charge. The new bags are made of recycled plastic and are much stronger and sturdier than those previously used. This means fewer will be needed for each shopping trip, which will help customers save money as well as the environment.

The new bags will be manufactured using a ‘closed loop’ system, which means they will be made from plastic recycled from Tesco stores. Tesco customers will be able to recycle their used bags in-store.

UK retailer Sainsbury’s has also announced plans introduce sturdier bags, which will replace the current, free, single-use bags.

“The government was very clear when it proposed this legislation that its primary objective was to protect the environment and reduce the number of bags we all use,” Sainsbury’s Director of Retail and Operations Roger Burnley said. “At Sainsbury’s we thought about how we could best support these aims and we therefore decided to create a thicker reusable bag, which we will sell for 5p and replace when it wears out.

“Our bags will be better for the environment, too – they’ll be made from 100 per cent recycled materials and be reusable, and then recyclable again once they’ve worn out.

“For our customers that shop online, we’re introducing a ‘bagless’ option, which gives them the choice to opt out of using bags altogether or be charged a flat rate of 40p (85.8¢) for single-use plastic carrier bags.”

Although the introduction of the thicker reusable bag will not be subject to the levy, Sainsbury’s will still donate all profits from these bags to “good causes”.

The bag charge in Scotland and Wales has so far helped raise more than £5 million ($10.7 million) for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Keep Scotland Beautiful and Keep Wales Tidy. The bag charge in England is also expected to raise millions of pounds.

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