The 5p charge was introduced in 2014.
The Scottish government has announced that the minimum cost of plastic carrier bags in the country is set to rise to at least 10p from today (April 1). Announcing the move in January this year, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said it was important to increase the charge periodically to ensure it discourages people from buying bags instead of utilising reusable options.
Before today, the charge for plastic carrier bags in shops was 5p and was introduced in 2014, which saw plastic bag usage dropping by 80% by the following year. The Marine Conservation Society also noted the number of bags found on beaches dropped by 40% each year for the two years after the charge was introduced – reaching 42% between 2018 and 2019.
Additional measures to reduce single use plastic consumption include the banning of the sale of plastic stemmed cotton buds, with further steps to ban a number of single use items recently being consulted on.
The Environment Secretary said: “Thanks to the people of Scotland, the introduction of the charge has been successful in reducing the amount of single-use carrier bags in circulation. It has also made us think about the small steps we can all take to help the environment.
“While the 5p bag charge was suitable when it was first introduced, it is important that pricing is updated to ensure that the charge continues to be a factor in making people think twice about using a single-use carrier bag. The Scottish Government is committed to building back a greener society so by further reducing our reliance on single use items, we are taking positive steps to limit our impact on the climate and the environment.”
Some retailers have pledged to donate their carrier bag charges to good causes, with £2.5 million being raised in 2019. Keep Scotland Beautiful is one of these charities and the chief executive, Barry Fisher, said the donations from the plastic bag charge have supported the charity to combat climate change, tackle litter and waste, and protect and enhance the places we care about.
The chief executive for Keep Scotland Beautiful added: “Fewer single use carrier bags is great news for our environment. Since 2014 the single use carrier bag charge has significantly helped reduce the number of bags being given out by retailers – saving thousands of tonnes of single use plastic realising a significant net carbon saving and reducing the chances of these items becoming littered.
“However, there is still an opportunity to challenge individual behaviours and improve consumer awareness which the doubling of the charge will help do. We’ve been fortunate to develop positive partnerships with a range of well-known high street retailers, and a number of small individual store owners, who understand their responsibilities in helping to tackle Scotland’s environmental issues.”