Since October 5th 2015 shops in England have been legally required to charge 5p for single-use plastic carrier bags. Some people I’ve spoken to about this are very much against it & just view it as a ploy to allow shops to make more money. However I disagree and see it as a positive, in creating a more environmentally friendly country, by reducing the amount of plastic one-use products we use & as a result litter. Don’t get me wrong I change my mind when I’ve packed up my bags for life ready for my trip to the supermarket and proceed to leave them in the house!
However if we look at the real reasons behind this charge I think you might agree with me. Obviously the main reason this law was created was to reduce the number of plastic carrier bags being used and as a result dumped as waste. Plastic carrier bags take much longer that other bags to degrade, cause a litter problem & they can cause damage to the wildlife. In 2025 it is estimated that as a result of this 5p charge the UK economy will save £780,000,000. Shops in the UK will have donated £730,000,000 to their chosen cause. There will be a carbon saving of over £13,000,000.
It’s worth noting that some shops, such as Primark, use recycled paperbags and therefore are not legally required to charge 5p. The money that the shops receive from the plastic bag charge is to be donated to a good cause, therefore shops make no profit whatsoever from this charge. That being said I can only see this as a positive move.By comparison ‘bags for life’ can be used more than once, however their price goes directly to the retailer rather than a charity. At the end of the day if you forget your carrier bags before you go shopping it is only a 5p charge and it goes to charity, rather than the retailer.
You can learn more about the plastic carrier bag charge in UK here.