Shoppers reminded to re-use bags this Festive season

Two months after the introduction of the carrier bag charge in Scotland, shoppers are being reminded to bring their re-usable bags for the final weekend of Christmas shopping.

21 Dec 14

The Scottish Government’s carrier bag charge regulations, which came into force on 20th October this year, require all retailers to charge a minimum of 5p for every single-use carrier bag distributed.

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said:

“I would urge everyone to reuse their bags when they head to the shops – not just this weekend, but every day.

“In the two months since the charge was introduced I am delighted to hear that major retailers are already reporting a reduction of up to 90 per cent in the distribution of single use carrier bags. Long may that trend continue.”

Zero Waste Scotland’s Carrier Bag Commitment recognises retailers who donate the proceeds of the carrier bag charge to good causes, and all retailers are being urged to sign up. 

Iain Gulland, Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland said:

“On one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year, I hope that shoppers will remember to bring their re-usable bags with them, saving money and reducing the number of bags in circulation.

“Since the regulations launched two months ago we’ve had positive feedback from both retailers and shoppers, and I hope to see that continue.  We’ve also had over 250 retailers register an interest in our Carrier Bag Commitment, agreeing to give the net proceeds from the charge to good causes. That means charities will be enjoying a festive bonus this year, even as we cut the number of single-use bags given out, many of which end up as litter in our communities.”

Signatories to the Carrier Bag Commitment include Morrisons, Boots and Holland and Barrett, whose chosen charities are seeing a festive bonus this Christmas as a result of proceeds from bag sales, even as the initial reports show the number of bags given out is falling. 

Ewan MacDonald-Russell, Scottish Affairs Advisor for Morrison’s, commented:

“We were happy to sign up to Zero Waste Scotland’s Carrier Bag Commitment. We believe it’s absolutely right for the proceeds of the carrier bag charge to be donated towards charities making a difference in Scotland through our Foundation.”

“The carrier bag charge has led to a real shift in our customers’ approach, with our figures showing an 82 percent reduction in single use carrier bags in our stores since October.”

A spokesperson for Boots said:

“We have signed up to the Carrier Bag Commitment, and our customers have reduced the amount of bags they use in our shops by over 80% in Scotland - almost 1.5 million bags per month. And, we are supporting Macmillan Cancer Support in their work in Scotland with the proceeds of the charge. So, good news all round – better for the environment, better for our charity partner, the people of Scotland, and for Boots UK!”

A spokesperson for Holland & Barrett said:

“As part of our Plan it Green environmental promise, every Holland & Barrett store banned the practice of giving away single-use carrier bags more than five years ago. As such, we are huge supporters of Zero Waste Scotland and what they are hoping to achieve.

“Holland & Barrett does not have a single charity partner, so has signed the Carrier Bag Commitment, meaning we will pledge any funds generated through the sale of 5p paper bags in our Scottish stores to a range of good causes.”

Full details of the Carrier Bag Commitment can be found at  

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