Long-Lasting impact as Carrier Bag Charge marks first anniversary

Tradition may dictate a paper gift for first anniversaries, but perhaps a more durable material might be in order now for giving or putting gifts into.

Written By Iain Gulland  |  21 Oct 15

That’s because Scotland’s carrier bag charge is marking its first anniversary, with the fantastic news of just how much impact it has had having in reducing the number of single-use bags, so emblematic of our throw-away society.

As the Scottish Government has announced, major grocery retailers indicate a reduction in bag use of around 80 per cent since 20 October 2014 since the 5p charge came into effect. – equivalent to at least 650 million fewer bags being handed out when compared to previous year’s figures.

Not only should the government and those of us interested in tackling resource wastage celebrate this occasion, the people of Scotland should be giving themselves a big pat on the back for embracing the charge so wholeheartedly. There has been very little in the way of a stramash at the tills– instead, millions of people appear to have switched to longer lasting ‘bags for life’ with very little hesitation.

We will all now start to see the benefit in reduced litter in communities and waterways up and down the country. Everyone will sadly be familiar with the sight of single-use bags, no longer fit for their original purpose, but clinging onto trees and hedgerows and riverbanks for years after being discarded.

Retailers have also played a huge part, communicating with customers, encouraging them to bring their own bags, and many of them signing up to Scotland’s Carrier Bag Commitment, a voluntary reporting mechanism through which signatories commit to donate revenue raised from the charge to good causes. I’m delighted with the way they’ve taken to this measure with almost £7 million having been passed on to a wide range of good causes the length and breadth of the country..

The Scottish Government, and Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead, can rightly be pleased in seeing through a policy which, with all the media interest it continues to attract, really makes people think about issues of waste and litter both of which urgently need to be addressed. Not bad for a first anniversary.

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