Shoppers in Scotland have been hit with a 5p charge for a single-use plastic bag after regulations to introduce it were backed by the Scottish Government.
MSPs approved the new rule by 100 votes to 12 in an effort to clamp down on plastic waste as Scotland currently uses 750 million bags every year – the highest number in the UK. The purpose of the charge is to encourage shoppers to think about reusing bags to improve the environment as well as prevent litter.
Money raised through the introduction of the charge – which will come into effect on 20th October this year – will go towards good causes, according to the Scottish Government.
Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “The vast number of single use carrier bags given out in Scotland is symbolic of our throwaway society. By requiring retailers to charge at least 5p per bag we want shoppers to stop and think about what we discard.”
He added: “This charge is not a tax but will see retailers donating the proceeds to charity and has the potential to raise millions of pounds for good causes, including environmental projects.”
Today’s announcement follows similar laws which were introduced in Wales in 2010 and Northern Ireland last year. England doesn’t charge for carrier bags yet but the EU is working on laws to require all 28 member states to clamp down on plastic bag use.