Shoppers to be hit by a charge for carrier bags

Reporter:

Rebecca Cole

SHOPPERS will be charged for carrier bags under new measures brought in next month.

From October 1 the Welsh Government will introduce a 5p charge on many single-use carrier bags in a drive to reduce waste and encourage recycling.

John Griffiths, the Minister for environment and sustainable development, described such bags as “a waste of resources, a problem as litter and a symbol of the throwaway society”.

He hopes the move will result in a 90 per cent reduction in the number of carrier bags distributed in Wales.

The Government estimates the scheme could also raise £2-3 million in the first year alone.

In Wrexham, council trading standards officers will be enforcing the change and the proceeds, other than those needed to cover advertising and implementation, will be donated to good causes such as local charities or boosting tourism in the town.

Toni Slater, public protection service manager for the council, compared the authority’s attitude to enforcement to that of the smoking ban.

She said: “We will not be too heavy-handed with the implementation of this new ruling at first.

“We intend to work with shopkeepers to ensure a smooth transition, initially focusing on education and awareness.

“But we will react to complaints from anyone who believes stores are not adhering to the rules and we do have powers to intervene.”

The charge will apply to all stores including supermarkets, corner shops, clothes stores and pharmacies, as well as fast-food restaurants and takeaways, although there are exemptions for some purchases.

Larger stores with more than 10 members of staff will also have to keep records of the number of bags sold and to whom the proceeds have been donated.

They will be liable to pay a £100 charge if they fail to do so.

Ron Davies, leader of Wrexham Council, believes the scheme will be a success.

He said: “I think the very act of people having to go into shops and ask for a carrier bag will make them think twice about whether they really need it.

“We have been working closely with the town centre manager to make sure shops are comfortable with the new laws.

“It’s great that the scheme will directly benefit the environment and that proceeds are going to be put to good use.”

A Flintshire Council spokesman said: “The trading standards service will enforce the new legislation. However, in the early stages following its introduction officers will be offering advice and guidance regarding the new measures."

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