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Closed minds condemn bag charge to confusion and failure

4 June 2014

Hundreds of bags blown from landfill. Hundreds of bags blown from landfill. Photo: Shutterstock

While we welcome the introduction of a carrier bag charge in England, the Government has shown a spectacular failure to listen to the guidance given by every sector asked for advice by announcing today that its proposed scheme will exclude small retailers, paper bags and biodegradable bags.

The result will be a scheme that is different to the ones in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – confusing for both retailers and consumers.

The bag charge is designed to significantly reduce the 8 billion bags given out every year in England, in turn reducing the incidence of littering and choked wildlife. But with only larger retailers required to take part in the scheme, consumers will find the scheme inconsistent and the small retailers won’t have the chance to reduce their costs.

Samantha Harding, spokesperson for the Break the Bag Habit campaign, says:

‘With this blanket refusal to listen or consider other view points, the Government has shown its contempt for its own consultation process. With representative groups, bodies and agencies clearly stating the bag charge scheme won’t work with the proposed exemptions, it is staggering that this advice and expertise has been so blatantly disregarded.

‘At a time when so many other issues need funding, we will now see precious money being spent on helping consumers understand this complicated and irrational scheme. We would urge both large and small retailers to introduce the scheme voluntarily in England at the same time as the scheme in Scotland. This could reduce costs and allow them to achieve the benefits the Government has been too short-sighted to make compulsory.’

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